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Oklahoma Bar Association

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Management Assistance Program

Tips to Improve Your Listening Skills (June 4, 2020)

The business world runs on digital communication. But lawyers will always have a lot of information to exchange through verbal communications, whether it is negotiating a deal or interviewing a witness.

We all talk. We all listen. Many people are good at talking. Fewer are good at listening.

Being a great listener increases your chances at understanding and retaining the discussion. Information is power, so that’s good. But employing active listening techniques in one-to-one conversations helps you connect with the other person, building a better bond and encouraging them to be more open and candid with you. Engaging as an active listener can improve someone’s opinion of you. These are powerful benefits whether a lawyer is meeting with a prospective client or interviewing a witness.

There are many things we can do to improve our listening skills. Some of the basics of active listening have been repeated so frequently that they seem to be clichés. Some of this wisdom is still very valuable, but there are some great new ideas circulating as well.

Check out What Great Listeners Actually Do – Good listening is much more than being silent while the other person talks, which originally appeared in the Harvard Business Review.

From Fast Company 6 Ways To Become A Better Listener.

There is also a great guide in The New York Times Smarter Living section— How to Be a Better Listener. This was written by a journalist who had spent 30 years interviewing people. (If you are not a NYT subscriber, one only gets a limited number of “free reads” per month, so there could be a paywall block for you.)

You can locate other articles easily. But don’t just read them. Make notes of a few ways you can improve your listening skills.