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The Art of Listening
Excerpted from The Architect’s Handbook of Professional Practice: Practice Update 2003
Revised November 2006
The AIA collects and disseminatesBest Practices as a service to AIA members without endorsement or recommendation. Appropriate use of the information provided is the responsibility of the reader.
Good listening skillsare learned over many years. One may not be able to master listening skills from this Best Practice but it will point out the most important factors that attribute to good communication and listening.LISTENING WITH EMPATHY
its validity or usefulness. Learn to listen without judging either the speaker or the content of the message. Show interest. Although it may seem insincere, adopting aninterested posture (leaning in, eyes front, not preoccupied) will help you become interested, even if you find the subject or the speaker less than scintillating. It’s not all about you. Resist the urgeto share your own stories, however relevant they may seem to you. Especially resist the urge to top each point with an anecdote about how the same thing happened to you before, only much worse. Giveaffirmation. Learn to use words and actions that affirm the speaker without necessarily expressing agreement. Affirmation means letting a speaker know his or her message is being received, not that youagree with every word. Take notes. Taking notes is almost always permissible, unless clients specifically tell you their comments are “off the record.” If you do take notes, you’ll be surprised athow much better you remember the conversation later, even without referring to them. Be in the moment. Empathetic listening means paying attention while your client is speaking to you, not thinking backon something that happened earlier in the day (or the meeting), and not looking ahead to something that might happen later. Being in the moment requires your full participation in the conversation...