Listening is vital to creating self-awareness, building effective relationships, and being successful in work and life. But if your mind is constantly wandering or if the topic at hand is uninteresting, staying focused is much easier said than done. Thankfully, there are ways to keep communication open between the speaker and listener even during challenging hearing moments.
- Block Out Distractions— Close the door, turn off the radio and TV, put down what you were doing before someone else commanded your attention.
- Body Language— Give the speaker your full attention. Show that you are listening by nodding, smiling, or giving other verbal/nonverbal cues.
- Listen and Repeat— Mentally repeat the speaker’s words in your own to gain clarity. You can use words like, “what I’m hearing is…or it sounds like what you are saying is…” Ask for clarification if you’re having trouble understanding or find yourself wanting to respond in an emotional way.
- Avoid Interrupting— Allow the speaker to finish regardless of your judgment. Try to really listen to where he/she is coming from instead of seeing it from only your perspective. Interrupting with counter arguments is not productive.
- Respond Politely— Speak your own truth, but not at the expense of making the speaker wrong. You don’t have to agree with another person’s opinion, but should respect their right to express it.
- Take a Breath— Agreeing to disagree or tabling a conversation after having some time to think is never a bad thing. Consider the value of the relationship with the speaker, and if being “right” is more important to you than being a listener.
By following these steps your listening skills will be going up in no time. The people around you will notice as well and think of you as someone who is good at listening. Listening is definitely not the easiest feat around and many people have difficulty being a good, effective listener, but with these tips you can count yourself as a good listener.