Five Ways To Improve Your Listening Skills

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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.

Looking for more information to Improve Your Listening Skills?

8 Tips To Improve Your Listening Skills

How To Develop Listening Skills

Listening Skills

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.


Body Language Understanding Non-Verbal Cues

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Did you ever meet someone and think right away that maybe you couldn’t trust them? What was it about them that caused you to feel that way? Was it something they said or did? Because in the first few minutes of meeting someone, we make decisions about that person's intentions based on their non-verbal cues.  

Non-verbal Communication, commonly called body language, is the way our bodies tell another person about whom we really are and what we really think. There’s a reason Hollywood portrays the villain in an ugly light, just as they make the hero look like he can do no wrong. They want us to be sure who the players are.

It's especially important to make a good first impression. As many people like to say you never get a second chance at a good first impression. So make sure what your Body Language reveals about you is aligned with what you are saying.

Confidence - Signals 

  • Posture: stand straight and tall with your shoulders back but relaxed
  • Lean in slightly: this shows your focus is on them
  • Eye contact: present a solid gaze with a smiling face
  • Gestures: hands and arms should be purposeful and deliberate
  • Speech: slow and clear
  • Tone of voice: moderate to low and don't end every sentence with a question
  • Handshake: firm 

Relaxed and calm is what people like to see. It’s like when you smile at someone and they smile back at you. You cause them to want to smile because you seem to be happy. It rubs off.

Communication, not your strong point? Then practice in front of a mirror. Smile and say hello. Notice how you look. Would you want to meet you? Or would you cross the street to avoid you?

Now practice standing up straight, shoulders back, hands fidget free at your sides, and eyes forward making contact. Good posture is a good practice to develop. Being all scrunched up and hunched over with a frown on your face is no way to be. Pretend there is a string in the top of your head pulling you up. Now smile. There, you look great!

Defensiveness - Signals 

  • Hand/arm gestures: small and close to the body
  • Facial expressions: minimal
  • Body: turned away from you
  • Arms: crossed in front of body
  • Eyes: downcast, no eye contact

When you see this behavior your audience isn't open to what you have to say and your message is falling on deaf ears. By picking up on these cues you can make changes to what you say or how you are saying it to help that person feel more at ease and thereby more receptive to your message.

Disengagement - Signals 

  • Heads: are down
  • Eyes: glazed over or gazing elsewhere
  • Hands: fiddling with pen or doodling
  • People: slumped in their chairs

This behavior tells you your audience isn't buying into what you're saying. When you see that someone appears to be disengaged you can bring their focus back to the topic at hand by asking them a direct question and waiting for their answer. 

Lying - Signals

  • Eyes: maintain little to no contact, or have rapid eye movements
  • Hands/fingers: in front of mouth when speaking
  • Body: turned away from you or unusual body gestures
  • Breathing: rate increases
  • Complexion: changes in color, red in the face or neck
  • Perspiration: increases
  • Voice: changes in pitch, stammering or throat clearing

The ability to know if someone is lying will stand you in good stead. But if you notice some of these signs of lying don't jump to conclusions as they are often signs of nervousness. Instead, ask questions that may help to define what they think to see if this is the case.

Reflection - Signals 

  • Eyes: look away and return when answering
  • Fingers: stroking chin
  • Hand: on cheek
  • Head: tilted with eyes looking up

What do you do when asked a really good question? These gestures give away that they are thinking or pondering the answer to that question.

Understanding non-verbal communication is beneficial to your relations with people and a skill anyone can learn with practice. So, become more confident today by putting just one thing from this post into practice. In a short time, you will develop your own style of walking, standing, and greeting people. Remember: actions speak louder than words.

Please like or share this post if you find it useful. Better still leave me a comment so we can discuss what you liked or didn't like about it.