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Listening is an art, they say. I know it requires skill, it also requires effort, so it can be tiring when done properly. And its really difficult for most of us to do for any length of time.

We’ve all been told at some time to “sit up, pay attention, and LISTEN”. Beyond that we don’t generally get much in the way of instruction. Listening requires much more than those simple guidelines suggest.

Since it’s the main ingredient in effective communication, we could understand it better; listening is an essential life-skill and social ability. Do it well and you’ll be more popular, respected and successful, do it badly and you’ll have misunderstandings, fights, and weaker social connections.

Proper listening isn’t a passive activity solely focused on reception, it’s an intensely active process, and one which few of us, whatever we claim, do with any real flair or enthusiasm.

Enthusiasm and curiosity are essential qualities in a good listener, but just as important are humility and willingness to learn. If you’d like to be a better listener, just remember Manuel’s catch phrase “I know nothing”.*

*Whose Manuel?

The waiter in Faulty Towers

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