Listening is one of the most important skills you can master, for both business and personal life success.

Listening also takes effort, and doesn't happen automatically. 

Many barriers get in the way of our ability to listen to one another.  

Some of the worst are:
  1. Making Assumptions about the Other Person - when we tell others how they feel or what they mean, we shut down the conversation.  The word "you" frequently causes a defensive reaction.  Instead, try to reflect what the other person said by saying something like "It sounds like..." or "If I understand what you're saying..."  Then, be open to them letting you know if you really understood or not; some clarification may be necessary.
  2. Mental Chatter - It is possible to look like you're listening even when you're not.  However, to truly listen, you need to do more than just put on your "listening face".  You must turn off your mental chatter and focus on the other person.  Stop thinking about your to-do list.  Don't think ahead to what you will say when they stop talking.
  3. Interrupting - As a person is speaking or thinking, you cut him or her off to present your line of thinking.  This behavior clearly conveys a lack of respect for the other person's point of view.
So the next time you are engaged in a conversation, use these tips to focus on listening to what the other person is really saying.  You will be amazed by what you hear!