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On the other hand, as Mindtools.com points out, active listening is a skill to be learned:
“The way to improve your listening skills is to practice ‘active listening.’ This is where you make a conscious effort to hear not only the words that another person is saying but, more importantly, the complete message being communicated.
“In order to do this you must pay attention to the other person very carefully.
“You cannot allow yourself to become distracted by whatever else may be going on around you, or by forming counter arguments while the other person is still speaking. Nor can you allow yourself to get bored, and lose focus on what the other person is saying.”
Even the little things, like remembering someone’s name after you meet them, can make a huge difference. This seemingly trivial point merited an entire chapter in Dale Carnegie’s classic How to Win Friends & Influence People. He recommended repeating the name out loud after you hear it and then several times to yourself after you meet them. Writing the name down as well as some fact or characteristic to remember the person by isn’t a bad idea either. Indeed, I can guarantee that very few people will feel truly listened to if you cannot even remember their name.
What They Say is More Important Than What You Say
In negotiations, this is particularly important and was brought home to me while reading Robert Greene’s The 48 Laws of Power. The book is completely and totally amoral and makes no pretense about applying any sort of ethical framework to its arguments.