Avoid distracting actions or gestures. The other side of showing interest is avoiding actions that suggest your mind is somewhere else. When listening, don’t look at your watch, shuffle papers, play with your pencil, or engage in similar distractions. They make the speaker feel that you are bored or uninterested. Maybe more important, they indicate that you are not fully attentive and may be missing part of the message that the speaker wants to convey. Paraphrase. Paraphrasing means restating what the speaker has said in your own words. The effective listener uses phrases such as “What I hear you saying is . . .” or “Do you mean . . . ?” Why rephrase what has already been said? Two reasons! First, it’s an excellent control device to check on whether you are listening carefully. You cannot paraphrase accurately if your mind is wandering or if you are thinking about what you are going to say next. Second, it’s a control for accuracy. By rephrasing what the speaker has said in your own words and feeding it back to the speaker, you verify the accuracy of your understanding.
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