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Tips for Effective Listening

You are NOT listening to me when. . .

You do not care about me.

You say you understand before you know me well enough.

You have an answer for my problem before I've finished telling you what my problem is.

You cut me off before I finish speaking.

You finish my sentence for me.

You find me boring and don't tell me so.

You feel critical of my vocabulary, grammar or accent.

You are dying to tell me something.

You tell me about your experience making mine seem unimportant.

You are communicating to someone else in the room.

You refuse my thanks by saying you haven't really done anything.

You ARE listening when. . .

You come quietly into my private world and let me be me.

You really try to understand me even when I'm not making much sense.

You grasp my point of view even when it's against your own sincere convictions.

You realize that the hour I took from you has left you a bit tired and drained.

You allow me the dignity of making my own decisions even though you think they may be wrong.

You do not take my problem from me, but allow me to deal with it in my own way.

You hold back your desire to give me good advice.

You do not offer me religious solace when you sense I am not ready for it.

You give me enough room to discover for myself what is really going on.

You pay attention and acknowledge my portion of the conversation.

You accept my gift of gratitude by telling me how good it makes you feel to know you have been helpful.

Additional info

This information was provided by Lawrence Brock. During a long career of service to the banking industry, Brock pioneered a service called Transitions & Trauma to provide counseling and assistance to financial institutions and their employees in the event of a robbery or other critical incident. Currently, Lawrence Brock serves as Director, Senior Adulty Ministry, First United Method Church, Topeka, KS. He may be contacted at (785) 272-2490 or via email at

First published on 12/01/2004

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