Here is another step you can take to improve your ability to listen:
Utilize good nonverbal behavior to demonstrate to the speaker that you are focused on his or her message. You can effectively manage your nonverbal behavior with the S.O.L.E.R. Technique. This stands for Square, Open, Lean, Eye Contact, and Relaxed. Square refers to facing your communication partner directly, with your shoulders parallel to each other. This allows you to observe nonverbal behavior more effectively. While doing this, you should maintain an open posture (e.g., don’t fold your arms across your chest), and keep the space between you and your partner open as well (e.g., avoid talking across desks or tables). While seated, it helps to lean slightly forward. This demonstrates to the other person that you are genuinely interested in what he or she has to say. It also helps you focus on the speaker’s message more effectively. You can also maintain eye contact, although it is important to note that there is a strong cultural element in eye contact. For example, in some cultures, direct eye contact is taboo, especially between two people of unequal status (e.g., a manager and an employee). In this situation, direct eye contact from the person of lower status can be seen as disrespectful. Finally, it is important to try to maintain a relaxed state during all of your interactions. This is particularly important during cross-cultural exchanges because they often increase our anxiety level.
NEXT POST – October 23, 2008
Become a Better Listener: Part 3