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Is It My Turn Yet? Part I

Written by Deborah Grayson Riegel, Communication Coach for JRetroMatch

If you were a fly on the wall observing most dates, business conversations, or even large social gatherings, you’d see people taking turns speaking and listening. However, if you were a communication coach, you’d be observing something quite different – people taking turns speaking and then waiting for their turn to speak again.

Guess what? Listening and waiting for your chance to chime in are not the same thing!

Research shows that more than 35% of companies think listening is a top skill for business success. How many people think listening is a top skill for relationship success?

Does it matter how many -- or does it matter that your potential mate might?

Being an engaged listener isn’t a personality trait. Listening is a learnable skill set that gives us the opportunity to:

  • Avoid making assumptions
  • Delay the impulse to evaluate
  • Demonstrate interest
  • Understand the other person’s point of view
  • Clarify issues and ideas
  • Build a trusting relationship
  • And ultimately, determine goodness of fit!

Listening takes practice – so get into listening skill training right away. Here are some tips for listening practice in your business and personal life:

  • The next time your boss calls you into his or her office, resist the temptation to craft your responses while your boss is speaking. Ask clarifying questions instead to get more information that will lead to a more informed, relevant and focused answer from you.
  • The next time your mom calls, don’t speak to her while you are also putting away the laundry, making sure the pasta doesn’t boil over, and sending Blackberry messages. Give her your full attention – and your conversation may be more fulfilling, enjoyable and even shorter!
  • On your next date, rather than trying to impress your mate with your wit and intellect, demonstrate your attentiveness, responsiveness, and genuine interest by really listening. What a wonderful way to pave the path towards a possible lifetime of true connectedness and caring!

And do not fear – your turn to talk will still be waiting for you!

Next month:
Is it My Turn Yet? Part II

Deborah Grayson Riegel, MSW, is the Head Coach of, and helps Jewish organizations and individuals achieve personal and professional "Success without the Tsuris" through coaching, training and speaking.

Deborah’s energetic workshops and speaking programs are in high demand with North American Jewish organizations, Fortune 500 companies, national and local government agencies, and small start-ups, and her one-on-one coaching has propelled Jewish professionals across industries and interests to get farther, faster.

Deborah was the Director of Education and Training for the Mandel Center for Leadership Excellence at United Jewish Communities (UJC), where she developed innovative training programs for Federation professionals and lay-leaders, and co-authored an award-winning interactive solicitation training website. Deborah also worked at the Jewish Association for Services for the Aged (JASA) as the Director of the only program in North America that trains senior citizens to be lobbyists. In addition, Deborah was a key player in the development of New York’s Makor/Steinhardt Center for young Jewish professionals.

Deborah is on the faculty for both the Wexner Heritage Program and Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical school. A popular conference speaker for both the American Society of Training and Development and Training Magazine’s Conference and Expo, Deborah was awarded membership into the National Speakers Association in 2005. She is also a member of the Association of Jewish Community Organization Professionals, the Jewish Communal Service Association, and the International Coach Federation. Deborah is a graduate of Coach U. and is a Certified DiSC® Practitioner.

Deborah’s expertise in developing training and coaching for professionals and lay leaders in the Jewish communal world was highlighted when she authored “Corporate Universities in the Non-Profit Sector”, a chapter in the book The Next Generation of Corporate Universities (Allen, Ed, Wiley 2007).

Deborah earned a B.A. in Psychology at the University of Michigan, and her M.S.W. at Columbia University, supporting her expensive school habit by performing improvisational and stand-up comedy.

She and her husband Michael are the proud parents of twins, Jacob and Sophie, who inspire her to choose naches over tsuris everyday.
For more information, visit or email Deborah at

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