Listening is such an important part of relationships, one often overlooked in our consideration of what makes a relationship great.
The skill of listening really isn’t a difficult one and you can improve your listening skills in just a few simple steps.
Perhaps the most important tip for being a better listener is to give the speaker your undivided attention. Be sure to concentrate on the speakers words and resist the temptations to tune out from their message.
While in a conversation many people participate in other activities such as checking email, reading newspapers, watching TV and other things that distract them from the conversation.
Even in a face to face situation many listeners zone out by either thinking about their response to the speaker or daydreaming about something else. By allowing yourself to be distracted, you are not listening as well as you could be.
Most people don’t listen with intent to understand—they listen with the intent to reply.
Part of being a good listener is making sure that everything you hear comes directly from the speaker and not from your interpretation of their words. This means that as the speaker is talking, listen to the words as they are being spoken instead of trying to guess the point that the speaker is trying to make.
Many people jump to conclusions this way and this affects their listening ability. People who do this often don’t hear the speaker’s message because it is blocked out by their own assumptions.
Creating mental images of the speaker’s words is another way to become a better listener. This visualization process allows you to really comprehend the words you are hearing. These mental images will help you to retain the information you have just heard which in turn enhances comprehension making you a better listener.
Asking questions that relate to the speaker’s presentation can also help you to become a better listener. It’s important to ask questions without allowing the formulation of the questions to interfere with your listening. If you latch onto one of the speaker’s key points and spend the rest of the conversation thinking up a question you will miss a lot of information.
However, if you ask your questions immediately when they arise, you can have them answered in the context of the presentation without having it affect your listening abilities. Asking questions is an important part of listening because it lets the speaker know that you are following what he is saying and that you are interested in learning more about the topic. But be careful that you don’t interrupt the speaker’s train of thought by asking too many questions.
Being mindful of your body language is another way to be a good listener. Be sure to not engage in body language that tells the speaker that you are not interested in their words. Crossing your arms, avoiding eye contact and wincing are all ways that you can send a message to a speaker that you are not listening carefully to them. These mannerisms can result in the conversation being cut short because the speaker does not feel you are interested in what they are saying.
Of all of these the best way to become a better listener is to just keep practicing. Make a conscientious effort to apply your listening skills each time you are in conversation with someone or are attending a presentation.
While listening skills are not as widely practiced as speaking skills, they are just as important to a conversation if not more so. Being a good listener will not only ensure that you are getting the information correctly but will affirm to the speaker that you care about the information being presented and that you understand their message.
So until next time – Relate with Love