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Communication Is a Two-way Street

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Ten Bad Listening Habits

1. Appearing to listen. You nod, you smile, you agree with everything people say. But you don't hear a word. But the game is over when you ask a question about something the person already answered.

2. Resistance. You find ways to change the subject, distract the speaker or forbid discussion of a topic. Resistance simply puts off an inevitable confrontation.

3. Selective hearing. Tuning out or filtering out what you don't want to hear. It takes a lot of practice to filter out certain topics, but some people do it well. For example, a boss gives an order and a suggestion. The employee hears the order but tunes out the suggestion. The employee describes a productivity problem and hints about a raise. The boss focuses on the production problem and never hears the hint.

4. Calculating while listening. Forming an answer. Working out a response. Thinking of ways to escape. You are less interested in what the person has to say than in what you will be saying or doing next.

5. Cutting in. You listen to some of the data, jump to a conclusion and cut the person off. Or maybe you interrupt with a question or abruptly change the subject. If you do this, you not only upset people, you often reach the wrong conclusion. When you cut people off, they feel you do not give a darn about them.

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