Are You Listening??? (No, Really. . . Are You?)

Are you adept at communication?  Communication skills are a necessity, not just in our work lives, but in our personal lives as well.  So often we think we are “communicating” when we really aren’t. I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that we all forget (at least some of the time!) that communication is a process—it involves not just sending a message, whether verbally, in writing, in email. . . —but also the message being received and understood by the recipient, AND also includes feedback that the message has been understood and received.

And listening, really listening, involves paying attention to the words that are said, the way they are said, and reading body language.  It does not involve thinking about something else while the other person is speaking, or forming your own answer while listening.

That all probably sounds like enough work, doesn’t it—especially for something you thought you already knew how to do!  But now comes perhaps the hardest part:  determining the communication styles of yourself and others, and learning to communicate successfully with those whose style differ from yours.

Strother Martin

Strother Martin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yes, communication is SO important.  When we don’t do it well, we don’t just have a “failure to communicate.”  Poor communication can be a recipe for disaster.   Most workplace disasters, whether in libraries, or elsewhere,  won’t typically be of such magnitude, but disasters just the same (you might anger a library patron so much they never use the library again, or irreparably damage your relationship with your municipal board.)  The time spent improving your communication skills will be time well spent, and can pay off in huge dividends.

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