Listen UP



I am having challenges communicating with my team. Can you give me some advice on how to be a more effective communicator?



Dear Leslie,

Perhaps you and your team can try exercises in listening. Listening is a major part of the communication process that is often overlooked. It is a natural part of life but once mastered it will transform your relationships. As a human, you can speak at a rate of over 100 words per minute but listen at double that rate. According Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts Association, “If you make listening and observation your occupation, you will gain much more than you can by talk."

Listening is a skill which should never be taken for granted. It allows people to avoid misunderstandings; encourages undivided attention and ensures effective responses to messages. However, this skill requires patience and devotion. It is not just about sound waves vibrating the eardrums and sending messages to the brain; it uses the entire body. It involves both verbal and non-verbal communication; and paying attention cues. Educator and author Peter Drucker stated that “the most important thing in communication is hearing what isn't said.”

It is very important to constantly improve your listening skills to become an effective communicator. Here are some techniques you can use to improve:

Focus attentively to the speaker by giving your undivided attention.

Turn off your mobile device or put it away to avoid further distracts

Face the speaker while he/she speaks

Maintain eye contact

Use gestures and nods to affirm your concentration

Pay attention to the emotions and body language of the speaker

Do not interrupt the speaker unnecessarily

Take notes if required

Be objective

Ask questions

Acknowledge and confirm the messages by repeating key points

Once you "learn to listen and listen to learn," the communication process becomes easier. Hence, there is an obvious reason why you were given two ears and one mouth. This is to ensure that you listen twice as hard as you speak. Employing these techniques will help you to be a better listener and a very effective communicator.

Good Listening.


AFETT is a not-for-profit organisation formed in 2002 with the goal of bringing together professional women and engaging in networking opportunities, professional training and business ideas. ASK AFETT is a column meant to address issues and concerns of professionals seeking advice to assist in progressing in their careers. Today's response was written by AFETT member, Chenelle Spooner, managing director of Spoonelle Communications Ltd. Learn more about AFETT at, search for AFETT Events on Facebook, follow us @AFETTEXECS on Twitter or contact us at (868) 343-2160. Email us your career-related questions at

The views and opinions expressed are those of the authors, meant strictly as advice and guidance, based upon their experience and expertise. In no way are they meant to be legally binding upon AFETT and or its members, servants nor agents.


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