Can you hear me now?

That famous line from the Verizon Wireless commercial speaks to actual sound reaching someone’s ear. In a totally different vein, we’re going to visit the number one effective communication skill: Listening.

Yep, it ain’t your talking more, better, succinctly, or with more savoir faire. It’s about your ability to tune out all that chatter going on in your head, the smartphone that is calling you even if it is in your pocket out of sight. It’s about you actively focusing your attention on the person who is talking in a way that is known as “being present.” It can be tough work.

I’d be willing to bet that you have found yourself at times where you have totally checked out of listening to someone, even though you can hear them. You catch yourself thinking “Ack! I wonder what they said? Shall I confess I wasn’t listening? Ack!” I know I have. Some times I’ve admitted it. Other times, I refocus to see if I can get the main gist of what has been said and not get caught.

The more important the conversation, we’re usually better at achieving that focus. Other times we’ve got to wrestle our wandering minds down to the mat to pay attention to what we want to pay attention to. The best way to value people is to listen to them.

The rest of this week, I encourage you to pay attention to yourself and how you are being present with your little ones, your colleagues, your spouse, your friends. See how you’re doing practicing the number one skill in effective listening.