In listening to another person, your body tells considerable about how much you are REALLY hearing what the person is saying. Body language of the listener speaks to the speaker about the communication. It can say "keep talking" or "shut up".

Below are some guideline about your body and what it can say. Learn these if you truly want people to KNOW you are listening.

1. Maintain eye contact. What do your eyes say to them? Sleepy or intently focused on them?

2. Lean slightly forward most of the time. You can also “mirror” the speakers body to a degree. For example, if they place their hand on their leg, you can do the same.

3. Just listen and put your agenda aside and put them as your total concentration. You can just nod most of the time to let them know you are hearing them. Speak only occasionally, adding in a “I’m hearing you”

4. Smile or frown in accord with what is being said or in what you observe in the other person.

5. Use an open posture with your hands and arms and legs. Do not cross any of these even if they do.

6. Let the person know you are hearing every word and what is NOT being said by how you hold your body and the concentration you give them. Let them feel they are being “held” by you even though you do not touch them or say a word. This may take practice but will be very effective as a listener.

7. Avoid touching the other person because touch or a hug can often stop the persons process. If you feel an urge to touch them or giving them a hug, ask yourself if that if for them or for you. You may feel a strong need to touch them but this may only be because of your personal anxiety in not speaking when you have a similar situation in your life.

8. Never offer advice even when it is asked. When you are asked for advice, try turning the question back to them and let them decesion. The are more apt to follow what THEY come up with than any thing you may say.

For more on listening skills see the following:

How to Listen Exercise

Automatic Talking - No Listening

Barriers To Communications Exercise
(Jump to Listening Barriers)

On Being Authentic by Abraham Maslow

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revised June 15, 2009

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