At least half of the process of good communication is effective listening - not just hearing the words and nodding your head, but trying your hardest to understand the meaning intended by the sender. Having the proper physical setting with as few distractions as possible, concentrating on what is being said rather than on how it is being said, listening for the ideas rather than facts, and developing note-making skills, all lead to more effective listening. A good way to develop listening skills is to paraphrase. When someone says something repeat it in your own words, to make sure that you understand. Try this exersise the next time you listen to a public speaker or a news broadcster. This forces you to concentrate on what is being said, and to really think about it. Be selective and listen for the main points - often not everything that is important.

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