When people speak, do you listen? How much of what’s communicated do you internalize?
Listening is an important skill – more so than one may realize. Stephen Covey often said that communication is the most important skill in life. He also said that listening is the most important communication skill. So many people in this world, just want to feel heard.
The good news is that you can dramatically improve your listening skills. And here are 7 ways to do that:
Focus On Listening
This might sound obvious, but if you would be surprised if you noticed how many times your mind start wandering somewhere when you think you listen to someone.
Stephen Covey once said that most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.
So, try to forget what do you want to reply and just listen to the person who is talking to you.
It's kind of ironic that we have all this technology to keep us connected, yet sometimes it is the very thing causing the disconnect in relationships. People feel comfortable sharing when they are not interrupted. Turn the phone ringer off. Put your phone away. Away means out of sight. Show the people in your life that they have your full attention. You are simply demonstrating that the conversation and the speaker are what's most important — not email, Facebook, and text messages.
Watch Body Language
Sometimes a person’s posture or gestures can say more than words. Your body language reveals your interest or disinterest in a story. When actively listening to someone, lean slightly forward and make eye contact. A simple smile and the occasional nod will show that you're interested and engaged.
In situations where you feel slightly uncomfortable — such as a networking event — you may have a tendency to cross your arms, put your hands in your pockets or exhibit other forms of nervous behavior. These small physical barriers can discourage others from approaching you.
The best listeners make a regular practice of asking thoughtful questions. When you reach a pause in conversation, ask a question that clarifies a previous point or helps to dig deeper into the topic of conversation. The person or group you’re talking to will gain value from your question and you’ll find it easier to resist distractions because your mind is fully engaged.
Listen With Empathy
Empathy is the ability to project oneself into the personality of another person in order to better understand that person's emotions or feelings. Through empathic listening the listener lets the speaker know, "I understand your problem and how you feel about it, I am interested in what you are saying and I am not judging you."
Act like a mirror — reflect back what you think the speaker is saying and feeling, using your own words.
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Don't discount the speaker's feelings by using stock phrases like "It's not that bad," or "You'll feel better tomorrow" — that way, person you're talking to can think that you don't understand (or don't care) how much the thing you speak of means to him/her. Instead, reflect back to the speaker what you understand and how you think the speaker feels.
Sometimes we become so entrenched in our own beliefs and opinions that we close down and don't want to hear anything else from anyone else, even those closest to us. Try to listen without being judgmental. Try really hard to let the other person talk. Take in the entire message, no interruptions allowed. Just listen. When you do that, you'll often find that even if you do disagree there is at least some shared ground or goals, which makes it easier to put yourself in the other person's shoes.
Don’t interrupt. Don’t jump in with solutions (this one can be a hard one in my experience).
Just be present in the moment and listen fully to what the other person has to say and let him or her speak until the entire message is said.
Sometimes that is also all that’s needed. For someone to truly listen as we vent for a few minutes and figure things out for ourselves.
READ ALSO: How To Become the Person Everyone Respects
Some people are blessed with the gift of being good listeners. We know who they are because we feel good when we walk away from having spent time with them. Listening is a learnable skill, if you truly commit to make it an imperative in your growth. And we hope that our little tips will help you on your way.