Keys To Stress Mastery: Are You A Good Listener? (Part 5)

by Doc Orman, M.D.

This week, in order to help you advance your stress mastery skills, I’ve been continuing our discussion of seven key skills for becoming an exceptional listener that I began last week (see links to prior posts in this series below):

KEY #1:  Listening Is Not A Passive Activity!

KEY #2:  Listen For Unspoken Fears/Concerns/Moods/Aspirations

KEY #3:  Good Listening Requires Great Wisdom

KEY #4:  Listen To Others With Respect And Validation

KEY #5:  Listen Without Thinking About How You’re Going To Respond

Today, I want to discuss another subtle but very important listening skill…

KEY #6:  Listening for Tell-Tale Signs Of Impending Trouble

Listening skillsAnother important secret to good listening is to train yourself to “listen” for clues of impending trouble or disaster.  Unfortunately, most people won’t come out and tell you directly if they are upset with you or if they have little or no intention to fulfill your expectations (or their promises).  They often are too embarrassed to tell you, or they might want to avoid a direct confrontation.  But they often will give you little tell-tale clues of their displeasure or lack of true commitment. 

This principle often comes up in our business and personal relationships.  In business, we are always communicating with people who make us various promises.  A salesperson highlights certain features of a product and promises certain benefits.  A contractor promises to build something or repair something in a specified period of time.  A co-worker is assigned a task and acts as if they’ve truly taken it on.

In personal relationships, our partners may drop subtle hints that we’ve done something wrong or that they are growing displeased with some aspects of the relationship.  They might not come out and say this directly, but they will expect you to interpret their clues and take appropriate corrective action.

The more you train yourself to “listen” for these subtle signs of existing or impending trouble, the better you will appreciate what’s going on for other people. Listening for people’s level of commitment, sincerity, and character traits is a very useful skill. 

These skills are not difficult to develop.  But they do take practice and a considerable degree of effort to master.  Sometimes it’s simply a matter of not passing over obvious clues or inconsistencies because you don’t want to discuss them or because you’d prefer them not to be there.

NOTE: This six-part series of consecutive blog posts contains excerpts from a newsletter article I wrote and published back in January, 1995 titled: “7 Keys To Listening That Will Win You Friends, Improve Your Marriage, Boost Your Profits, And Make People Follow You Anywhere!”

For a full list of all of my Kindle books about stress, click on this link:

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