by Tom Isler | June 01, 2007

illustrationDo you listen --really listen -- when people talk? Good listeners stand to do better in business and communicate more effectively in life than those who simply hear, according to Cynthia Grosso, founder of the Charleston School of Protocol and Etiquette ( Here are some of Grosso’s tips on lending an ear.

Commit. Listening requires dedication of attention and begins with an openness to receive information, both explicit and implied. “You’ll be surprised what you learn,” Grosso says.

Paraphrase. During your conversation, casually paraphrase what you’re being told; it proves that you appreciate and understand what’s being said. But avoid direct repetition, which could be viewed as condescending or confrontational.

Ask questions. Nothing demonstrates interest in what another person has to say as much as questions designed to elaborate, clarify, interpret or respond to a point that was made.

Focus on feelings. Astute listeners can glean more than just thoughts being proffered. “You can hear in their voice how people feel about themselves,” Grosso says. These clues indicate how best to relate to the speaker.