Excellent communication skills are the key to success in your personal and professional life. Research shows that non-verbal communication is actually more important than verbal communication.

1. 'Dance' with the non-verbal signals being sent your way on a moment-to-moment basis. Stop and ask the other person what their non-verbal behavior means if you are uncertain about it. It is more effective to be 'in the moment,' tuning in to your audience, than to drone on with what you were trying to say.

2. Use the tonality of your voice the way that a musician uses an instrument. When you are expressing love you can speak in soft, lilting tones. When someone is crying you can speak with a 'crying' sound in your voice. When you are setting limits on a toddler's behavior you can use a tone of authority and firmness.

3. Soak in the hugs that others give to you. Many people have difficulty being 'present' in the moment to truly receive the affection that comes with a hug. You probably need to be hugged more than you are being hugged, so why resist?

4. Express gratitude to your audience when they are being attentive and responsive. The encouragement could increase the level of attentiveness and responsiveness, making it a more enjoyable experience for you and for them.

5. Use good eye contact. Many people stop using eye contact when they are speaking about their successes due to fear or embarrassment. Others stop using eye contact when they are talking about painful things.

6. Stop what you were doing when your listeners look glassy-eyed or bored. Take ownership and responsibility for the situation by saying, "I must be 'off' tonight because I'm not getting that 'you're interesting' look." Change something drastically about what you were doing.

7. Tune in to the 'metacommunication' that is going on at a given moment. Metacommunication involves noticing the larger context of communication. It can be helpful to tune in to the larger context when there is a sense of being provoked by what a speaker is saying. For example, you might ask yourself, "Why is my teenager telling me that he is going to pierce his tongue? Is he telling me to test me or to take a risk of being open with me?"

8. When you are confronting someone who you are in a close relationship with, reach out to take their hand in both of yours. This kind of gesture will communicate that you want the difficult words that you are sharing to increase your intimacy rather than to put a wedge in it. A caring gesture during a confrontation can assist the other person in hearing you instead of defending themself.

9. Notice the effect that your words have on others. Do they cause life or dampen life? With practice, your 'radar' will improve and you will immediately know the effect that you are having on others.

10. Hug others as if you were St. Peter greeting newcomers at the Pearly Gates. Leo Buscaglia was on to something.

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About the Submitter
This piece was submitted by Dr. Clare Albright, Clinical Psychologist and Professional Coach. http://www.AbundanceCoaching.com These 10 Listening Tips are from, "85 Secrets for Improving Your Communication Skills" by Dr. Clare Albright, which can be downloaded for only $5.77 via www.ImprovingYourCommunicationSkills.com.