Business woman listening

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Don't Just Hear—Listen

If you forget what others have told you (instructions from your boss, the details of a friend's new romance), you're not alone. We spend about 55 percent of our communication time listening, but research shows that two days later we can recall only 25 percent of what we've heard. "We're so used to sound bites—headlines, tweets—that our attention wanders during normal conversation," says sound expert Julian Treasure. To focus, he suggests you avoid interrupting and "speech writing" (planning your response while another person is talking). Even better, wait three seconds after she finishes to jump in; this will give you time to absorb what she said. "It also helps," says Treasure, "to summarize what you heard: 'So what you're saying is...'"