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Think of a time when you were talking to someone who wasn’t listening to you. How did you feel? Were you angry and frustrated? What did you think of the person who refused to take the time to listen to you? Did you think he was arrogant, rude, or uncaring?
Listening well to another person (often referred to as “active listening”) is the foundation of good communication. It is an especially important skill for planners and planning board members that offers a way to help understand the variety of ideas and opinions often encountered. Listening well sends the person you are talking to a message, “I care about what you have to say.” Making an effort to understand someone shows respect for their thoughts, and for them as an individual.
Listening to someone means not arguing about their ideas or espousing your own.
When trying to listen and understand someone it is important to be in an open and non-judgmental frame of mind. Listening to someone means not arguing about their ideas or espousing your own. That isn’t to say that your ideas aren’t important or that you shouldn’t have an opportunity to voice them, but listening well means putting your own thoughts on the shelf (for a time) and concentrating all of your energy on understanding someone else. It isn’t necessary to agree with them, but it is important to be accepting and approachable.
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