How Well Do You Listen?
It should be noted that listening is every bit as important as speaking. Why? Because we all want to be heard and understood. That means someone needs to be on the receiving end listening, or we would just be talking to ourselves. But being heard isn’t the only benefit of good listening. People tend to think a good listener is more trustworthy. But, to really be heard you must listen.
The biggest way you can do that is to improve your listening skills. Listening requires concentration, at least, if you are not used to doing it and it also takes practice. The following five tips should help start you on your way to becoming a great listener.
Are You Fully In the Moment?
It’s understandable why people get distracted. There is a lot going on in life both personal and business. You owe it to yourself and to others to minimize distractions while having a conversation. And make no mistake being a good listener means being a good conversationalist.
People tend to be self-absorbed and constantly think about themselves. So, while you think about yourself, remember it’s also important to be mindful of others.
The benefits of improved listening will make it worthwhile to you as people will know (at least subconsciously) when you are doing it and appreciate it. They will feel your interest and want to spend more time with you. They will sense that you are taking notice of what they have to say and in turn will want to listen to you.
Tip 1: Clear your mind and focus on what the person is saying.
Take a Walk in Someone Else’s Shoes
When they are speaking, make an effort to put yourself in their place. Listening doesn’t mean you have to respond to everything. In fact, sometimes all people need is to get something off their chests. Giving advice is not always a good idea, especially if you are not familiar with the situation or don’t have the expertise. Again, it’s all about hearing what others are talking about and showing empathy when needed.
It also doesn’t require you to unconditionally agree with what is being said. But it’s important to at least hear the message. When you feel you are in the right and can offer your opinion on whatever the subject may be, then you should do so. When it is your turn to talk, find some common ground and start with something you agree with.
Tip 2: Be tactful and respectful of others.
Let the Speaker Know You Were Listening
Be responsive and encourage the speaker to continue with small verbal comments like yes, and uh huh. Nod occasionally and smile, make eye contact. Ask questions or for clarification on a particular point. Begin your questions with the words “how” and “what” to leave them open-ended. This invites a further exchange of information. So, don’t forget to share information about yourself. This is a conversation, not an interrogation.
Tip 3: Build connections with people.
Practice Active Listening
Show a genuine interest in what the person is saying by giving your full attention. This should be reinforced by eye contact and other Body Language signals such as facial expressions and gestures. Don’t mentally prepare what you will say next. It’s difficult to listen to and fully understand what you heard under that circumstance. Instead, show the person that you understood what had been said by repeating and paraphrasing what you heard. Then ask them “if this is what they meant.”
Tip 4: Show your interest in what the person says.
Develop a Growth Mindset
People who are curious see conversations as learning opportunities. So, they see everyone they speak to as having the potential to teach them something. They are open to new ideas, challenges, and experiences. For these people, listening to others has become another way to absorb knowledge.
Tip 5: Expand your knowledge.
Listening is a skill that can be mastered. It takes time and a commitment. Remember your goal is to truly hear what the other person is saying. What you will find when you put forth the effort is that people may start approaching you more often because you have taken these first few steps to becoming a great listener.
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I really enjoyed writing this post. It has always been my belief that understanding others is only achieved when truly listening to them. Please let me know what you think.