In order to build good relationships, you must become a good listener. And in order to be a good listener, you must do these: 1) Listen without interrupting. And that’s so, even when you know more than the person who is talking to you! Respect them enough to value what they say and listen attentively until they’re finished. 2) Try to understand their point of view, feelings, thinking, and needs. In other words, listen to understand. Good listening is hearing what people actually think, mean, or feel, not what you imagine they should think, mean, or feel. Instead of guessing, politely ask, ‘Am I understanding you correctly? Do you mean…? Are you feeling…?’ Don’t assume – verify. 3) Avoid rushing to conclusions. Listen without judging. If what they say doesn’t quite add up, keep listening. ‘He who answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly and shame to him’ (Proverbs 18:13 NKJV). When you hear more, it may make sense. 4) Refrain from putting them on the defensive. Listen without correcting, countering, or devaluing. Saying, ‘That’s not the way it was,’ or ‘What did you expect?’ or ‘You’re just being silly and too sensitive’ kills real communication. 5) Accept their perceptions and feelings as valid expressions of a valued person. Validate the speaker. By saying, ‘If I understand you correctly, you’re thinking…feeling…am I right?’ Ask them to help you get on the same page with them. Saying, ‘Given what you have told me, I can see why you would feel that way’ will increase their willingness to consider your thoughts and accept the solutions you offer. If you want to win people and influence them, learn to listen.