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Good problem solving begins with good listening

Listening

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Really listening can feel risky, which seems strange because listening doesn't materially change anything. But sometimes you'll hear things that are hard to hear, says Harvard Business Review.

Listening is harder than speaking. Even the best listeners sometimes have to bite their tongues to stop from reacting, interrupting, or trying to console the person talking.

Here are three ways you can truly listen:

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1. Avoid distractions. This doesn't just mean putting down the BlackBerry or closing your Web browser. Try not to think about what you're going to say next. Simply focus on what the other person says.

2. Repeat back. This sometimes feels silly, but repeating back what you heard shows the other person that you're listening.

3. Ask thoughtful questions. Ask open-ended questions that help you see the issue more clearly and allow your conversation partner to go deeper into what he cares about.

This management tip was adapted from How to Really Listen by Peter Bregman.

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