Being able to listen well, is a communication skill that everyone should possess. A good listener can build good relationships with people, be at work, school or family. A good conversation always starts with good listening and the sincerest way to respect a person is by listening to what they have to say. Therefore, respect and an open conversation with the other are the foundation of a budding relationship. In this world with advanced technology, people are always in a rush to achieve their immediate goals. We hardly spend any time opening up a conversation with people.
But in this high-tech world, the need for communication has gained a greater significance than before and good listening skills have become a need of the hour. The inability to communicate well may leave misunderstandings and eventually create conflicts. Communication being a two-way process, listening plays a major role in conceiving an idea. Here are 10 tips to become an active listener. This will help you save time and energy.
Table of Contents
1. Maintain good eye contact
Would you be pleased if someone is peeping at their phone or looking around when you are talking to them? Nobody wouldn’t. This is why maintaining eye contact with a person is important when it comes to a face-to-face conversation. It is easy to get distracted, but it’s way more important to pay attention to someone.
Staring at the wall or gazing around while the other one is talking is nothing less than showing disrespect. Apart from this, impeding eye contact with someone also indicates that the other person is feeling guilty or shy. Hence, to not let the other person run into false conclusions, look at each other in the eyes while having a conversation.
Try to picture what is being said. This will help you memorize the information and will benefit you when you catch up with the person later. Visualizing can increase your concentration level and helps you to refocus even the conversation bores you or the surrounding distracts you. Hence visualizing makes us a better listener
3. Don’t spend the time planning
We tend to think about what to say next and start preparing it ahead of time. This is a very common mistake we all make, especially while talking to someone for the first time. While getting acquainted with a stranger, it’s quite natural to run out of topics. But we often fail to understand the elementary thing that our mind can’t think on what to say next and listen to the other at the same time. Though it may seem possible to some, it isn’t easy and wouldn’t be effective. We will miss out on certain information here and there therefore being a good listener helps to focus better at the moment
4. Do not interrupt
Interrupting a person while they are talking is typically a rude thing to do. This shows that you are either not interested in taking the conversation ahead or you seem to consider your opinion more valuable and superior. This can create tension between the two and may gravely affect the quality of communication. But at times when you feel the need to speak up, there are polite ways to interrupt the conversation. Use phrases like, ‘I would like to add on to this, ‘May I make a suggestion’ etc.
5. Be empathetic
Facial expressions play a key role when it comes to listening. They convey a lot more than words. This gives the speaker a sense of affirmation and facilitates the flow of communication. To experience empathy, put yourself in other shoes. This will let you feel their emotions, be it happiness, excitement, sorrow, or even disappointment. Being empathetic makes you more expressive.
After the speaker is done with their talking, take some time to process your thoughts and try to summarize their point of view. This will seem irrelevant and a waste of time. But on the contrary, it lets the speaker know that you were listening and this is an opportunity to clear out misunderstandings if any. Practice makes a man perfect. Paraphrasing isn’t as easy as it seems. It takes time to be good at this. Using phrases like ‘As you were saying, ‘So what you meant is, can help you get started with this.
7. Do not jump to conclusions
Listen carefully until the person finishes talking. Don’t be a sentence grabber. Even if you know what the other is about to say, let them continue at their own pace. Hindering this flow may agitate the speaker. If you want to shape yourself into an active listener, push yourself to be more open-minded and less judgmental. Having the urge to criticize the other when you hold a different opinion on a controversial topic is ordinary. But active listeners should force themselves to accept and respect their perspectives.
8. Ask questions and clarify your doubt
Misunderstandings may occur due to differences in communication styles and due to the misinterpretation of non-verbal signals. To avoid any such misapprehension of information, make sure you ask your queries and get it clarified. While doing the same, speak up only when the other person pauses. Otherwise, it may seem rude. But if you feel the need to raise certain relevant questions instantly, be polite enough to address your inquiries by using phrases like ‘May I ask you something’ or ‘Could you please talk more about it, etc.
Ask only relevant questions concerning the subject matter you are talking about. Some of your questions may lead the conversation in an unintended direction and leave the speaker astray. During such instances, bring the conversation back to track.
9. Do not be absentminded
To grab the attention of someone is not an easy thing to do. People don’t have the patience to listen to something that they are not interested in. A person who lacks interest in history wouldn’t probably listen to a conversation that’s related to it.
But despite the topic being discussed, active listeners should force themselves to focus on what the person is talking about. Do not get lost in a world of fantasy. Restructure your thought process, the moment you get distracted. One must consciously make an effort to engrain the essence of the conversation.
10. Body language matters
Positive body language indicates that you are listening well. Moreover, it makes you feel more open, attentive, and receptive. Smile often, nod your head when you agree on something similar. Leaning against a wall or slouching down in a chair indicates that you are not captivated by the conversation made. So, an active listener should take this into account for effective communication.
Receiving, understanding, remembering, evaluating, and responding are the five stages of listening. To become a good conversationalist, one must be a good listener first . To listen well, one must withhold any sort of judgment and effectively embrace these five stages.
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