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More Tips for Positive and Effective Listening

Assume a positive listening posture. Sit up straight, feet on the floor and pen in hand. Slouching or tilting the chair back does not lend itself to good note taking. Slouching can lead to drowsiness and other distractions.

Use your eyes and ears to listen. Follow thespeaker with your eyes. Make eye contact. Add to your listening by paying attention to any visual aids used, such as overheads or slides.

Take notes. Your memory is limited and imperfect at best. Don't attempt to write down everything you hear. Jot down key ideas, important words or phrases. Don't be concerned about neatness, grammar or spelling. You're communicating with yourself by means of your notes. Invent your own shorthand and gimmicks. The important thing is to write the notes so that when you review your written record, you can recall and understand the speaker's message.

Stay focused. The ability to concentrate is a learned behavior. Aiming a gun at a target requires paying attention. Pulling the trigger and shooting the gun at the target requires concentration. Concentration is focused energy. You have to discipline yourself to remain focused on what you are listening to. You have to control -- or at least limit -- your distractions.

As mentioned earlier, if you are an average adult learner, your attention span is about 10 minutes or so. However, through planning and practice, you may be able to increase this to as much as 30 minutes at a time.

Be a total listener. Not only are you receiving communication, but you should also communicate back to the speaker. Be attentive and make good eye contact with the speaker. Acknowledge the speaker's message by nodding occasionally or smiling. By these behaviors, you are telling the speaker you understand. You're in tune with the speaker. Avoid the blank stare, looking at the clock, fidgeting in your seat. These behaviors send a message of boredom and inattentiveness. This can be a distraction for the speaker.