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The most beneficial social skill of all might be listening.
Listening well is practicing mindfulness, being aware of what is occurring in the moment without judging it. This kind of listening is usually called attentive or active listening.
People love being heard. If you offer someone your complete attention, they will likely notice since this is rare. Too often people half-listen to each other. We hear the gist of what is said but are also thinking about what story or opinion to share next, or about what sounds good for dinner.
Active listening does not mean putting up with those who chatter on about trivia, or keep repeating themselves, or tell one too many golf stories. Part of being a skilled listener is knowing when to redirect or end a painful conversation.
Photo credit: Alessandro Valli / flickr
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