Professional Development Training

Written by Jeremy Horelick
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Most people already know that speaking is a core part of any professional development training program. What they don't realize, however, is that cultivating listening skills is just as important. When you stop to think about, of course, it makes perfect sense. Conversations, like correspondences, are made up of give and take. Think about how you feel listening to nonstop talkers who are always so eager to impart that they scarcely stop to receive. These are not the people whom you hope to emulate in your professional development training.

You know you need to be a good listener, but unfortunately no one's given you a Handbook for Effective Listening as part of your professional development training. As youngsters, we're taught to keep quiet, listen closely, and raise our hands if and when we have questions. Too often, however, we're so busy phrasing our questions in our minds and preparing to impress others with our stunning contributions that we never actually hear what our speakers are saying. Oftentimes, the speaker even covers the very topic we're so eager to chime in on.

Listening as Part of Professional Development Training

Anyone familiar with the professional speaking or self-help circuit is undoubtedly familiar with what's known as "active listening." In active listening, we're not just dedicating a half or a quarter of our attention to our interlocutors. Rather, we're fully engaged with the speaker because we are listening for a purpose. This purpose may (and will) change from instance to instance, so a single strategy here will not suffice.

Sometimes we're listening in order to get specific information, while other times we're listening in order to familiarize ourselves with someone's communication style. There are instances when we share a common interest with our speaker, and there are times at which we're listening for an amusing anecdote or punchline. The trick is to target what it is you hope to gain from your conversation. Once you've done this, you can employ the appropriate listening technique (and there are many) to help you.

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