Are you really listening? Whether you’re at the office or at home with your significant other the most important communication skill you can have is an ability to listen.
To listen well, is as powerful a means of influence as to talk well, and is as essential to all true conversation
The journey toward better communication begins with listening, here are 5 ways I’ve found to help reduce the distractions we face in communication so you can become a better listener:
1. Get Rid of Distractions
Silence your phone or better yet turn it off, close your laptop, put away any papers you’ll try to look at during the conversation. Try your hardest to not think about the distractions around you so you can focus on the conversation.
2. Be Legitimately Interested
Dropping the distractions is the first step, drop what you’re doing and focus. Put yourself in the speaker’s shoes and make their issues, feelings, etc… your own.
3. Stop Interupting
Do not interrupt someone when they are talking, especially if you want them to listen to to you when it’s your turn to speak.
4. Be Careful with Body Language
Actions do speak louder than words. You want your body language to show that you’re ready to listen.
- Loosen up and smile if it’s appropriate.
- Lean slightly forward to show that you’re interested.
- Do not cross your arms, it shuts you off.
- Maintain appropriate eye contact, it makes you look sincere.
We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak. – Epictetus
5. Avoid One Upping
No one wants to hear about how you had it harder or worse when they’re ranting. One upping is the easiest way to instantly shut off communication.
6. Avoid Planning Counterarguments
It’s natural to start planning counterarguments while listening, don’t. As soon as you start letting your mind wander with a counterargument you’ll no longer be listening fully. Take a mental note and get back to it later if you must.
7. See Beyond the Words
Actively think about what you’re hearing. Why did this person choose to talk to you? Are they excited? Jittery? Resentful? Upset? Determining the motive of the speaker will allow you to listen and react more empathetically.
8. Ask Questions
Is something unclear? Ask for clarification. Be careful to ask unbiased and neutral questions to not introduce your point-of-view. Stick to open-ended question such as “how did you feel about that?”
9. Some Responses are Appropriate
A simple “uh-huh” or nod can convey understanding and shows that you’re listening. If
10. Shut Up
The most important key to listening is shutting up. You can’t listen if you’re talking. This is especially key if a person is emotional. If someones crying, don’t continuously ask them what’s wrong. Offer them a box of tissues and listen.