Become a Better Listener

Hello again!

betterlistenerIn my two-part series on improving your listening skills, we are now at the point where I want to see you put these teachings into practice. For a job seeker, employee, or manager to remain aware and make difficult decisions with confidence, they must carefully listen to what is going on around them. Without strong listening skills, it becomes extremely difficult to gather information. Odds are that you will find yourself spending more time running circles around an issue than it is actually worth.

Below are the key points that I challenge all of you to remember and put into practice!

  • When you are interacting with others, use a ratio of 80% listening to 20% speaking. Encourage discussion and extract information by asking targeted questions. Questioning will help clarify underdeveloped ideas or shed light onto ones that have not been explored.
  • Enter into dialogue with your conversation partner with all assumptions and pre-conceived notions out in the open. This mutual understanding will encourage the exchange of ideas, as a level of respect will have been reached. It opens the door to more challenging questions and promotes the development of critically thought-out solutions.
  • Focus your conversations on what information you need to know, not what you think might be useful. The excess time used during your interactions may be taking away from an already-shortened timeline. Train yourself to minimize external distractions and refrain from digressing away from the task at hand.
  • Understand that ambiguity and uncertainty is an important tool. Not knowing what may occur in the future will help prepare you for unexpected curve balls thrown your way.
  • Process and put important information into mental file folders. Organized information can be more easily accessed and utilized in decision-making.
  • Identify relevant information from a conversation and work hard to
    remember it.
  • Listen and lead by example. Good listeners are considerate and knowledgeable of the decisions they are making. Be open to questioning and encourage others to challenge ideas.

To become a highly effective listener, you must test yourself and begin putting these processes to work for you. Through daily practices and focusing on one section of improving your listening skills, you will begin to view active listening as second nature.

Listen to the author that inspired this series, Bernard Ferrari:

Readers: Which above the above will you try out first? What point do you think will be the hardest for you to make part of your routine?

Refusing Employer Advances

Hi, Anita:

I have a huge problem that I need help addressing. Just recently we had a change in management and my new manager has been making comments that make me very uncomfortable and are beginning to creep me out. I do not want to quit my job. I just want this to stop! Help!

Dear, Avoiding Awkward Advances:

There is almost nothing worse than feeling uncomfortable and uneasy in your workplace. It is unfair and illegal to be made to feel this way. Sexual harassment is a very touchy subject can teeter between intentional advances and harmless playful comments. Your problem may need a simple straightening out, or it could take further action. Now let us get down to how to fix the problem, shall we?

Man_Call_meAs uncomfortable and cringe-worthy as this may sound, confronting the person in a respectful and professional manner should be your first step. It may be a misunderstanding, or the aggressor may not find his/her comments to be threatening or off-putting. If this is the case, you can sweep the problem off your plate and continue on with your work. It may be good to send an email notifying the person of how you are feeling in case you need additional support if things take a turn for the worst.

If it continues, begin writing down every time your supervisor makes comments or actions toward you that make you feel uneasy. Note the time, date, place, and detailed description of the incident. These notes will come in handy later down the line. Be sure to keep these notes in a safe place where they cannot be accessed by your manager or other co-workers. Your personal computer is a good place for these.

Immediately report the incident to Human Resources. Request a one-on-one meeting with your HR Rep. All discussions between Woman_Concernedyou and your HR rep should be confidential, but it can’t hurt to reiterate your desire for discretion before you begin speaking. Bring any documentation and explain how this makes you feel. Do not hold back. You deserve to work in a comfortable environment.

Remember that you should never be ashamed for the way you feel. If you are uncomfortable, it is your right to stand up for yourself. Who knows? You may not be the only one experiencing these advances.

Take a look at this short video about how to recognize and handle sexual harassment in your workplace:

Readers: What other actions could you recommend that will help resolve this issue? Have you been in a similar situation that you are willing to share?

Have a question you would like to ask? Visit

Warm Wishes,



Anita Clew's blog posts are intended for general guidance and should never be taken as legal advice. In all instances where harassment, inequity, or unfair treatment is believed to be present, please consult your HR Department or legal representation.
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