Let’s assess your listening skills. Today, you’ll answer six questions regarding your listening skills. Please, take your time before you answer each question.

1. While someone is talking to you about a problem, are you thinking about ways to fix or solve it? (Problem-solving is one of the least effective ways to listen and understand the other person’s world.)

2. When you are talking with someone, do you find yourself speaking at the same time as the pother person? (Over talking is not only rude but will cause the volume of your conversation to intensify.)

3. Do you tune out other people if they say something you disagree with? (Tuning out is a way to bind one’s anxiety about what is taking place in the conversation.)

4. If someone is talking about a topic that makes you uncomfortable, do you change the subject? (Changing the subject makes the other person feel unimportant.)

5. When another person is telling you about an experience they had, do you respond by talking about your own experience? (This process, called identification, shifts the conversation to you. There is little room for the other person to expand on what they were saying.)

6. Do you feel like you have to say something to fill in a silence? (Talking for the sake of talking, often helps you with your own anxiety but makes the other person feel unheard.)

The next time you are informally talking with someone, see how many of these mistakes the other person makes during the course of the conversation. Does one mistake seem to be more prevalent than others?

Recommended reading: Critical Connections - The Step-by-Step Guide to Transform Your Business Through Referral Marketing by Evan Leepson, MBA