Friday, October 4, 2013

The Most Important Part of Communication

"Perhaps the most important part of communication is listening.  It is difficult, if not impossible, to communicate with anyone if you do not know or care about what he or she has to say.  At the highest levels of listening, one attempts to understand not only the facts the speaker is trying to communicate but also the feeling they are trying to communicate.  This is referred to as empathetic listening, and it is the highest and most desirable level of of listening.  It means "listening with the intent to understand" where a speaker is coming from emotionally as well as intellectually.  To ensure understanding, it is necessary to clarify confusing communication and to seek out additional detail where there is none.  A technique to help with this is to paraphase or summarize what you understand from a conversation and then check with the speaker to verify your understanding."

From Basis Traits of Effective Management by Christopher Lidh in the ASCE Journal of Leadership and Management in Engineering, October 2013.

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