What would you say if someone told you that listening was a passive activity? It’s not. Listening is an active process, one which requires empathy and concentration. The more actively engaged you are in the conversation, the better listener you’ll be. And it doesn’t take much to become a better listener – just try these 15 tricks!
Listen Without An Agenda
When we meet or talk with others, we tend to have an idea of what we want to say and how we feel about certain issues already cued up in our minds. When this happens, it’s almost impossible for us to truly listen and connect with the other person – we’re stuck waiting until we can get a chance to speak instead of hearing what the other person is saying. Try to set your thoughts and feelings aside for a bit and just focus on the conversation at hand. This will make it easier for you to understand what the speaker is trying to communicate.
Make Eye Contact
This might seem like an obvious one but it’s often harder than it seems! When we’re focused on what someone is saying, we tend to look away or down at our phones or other devices. try to make eye contact with the speaker as much as possible – it will help you focus on what they are saying and show that you are interested in what they have to say.
We’ve all been there someone is speaking and we can’t wait to jump in and say what we have to say. But, when you interrupt someone it makes them feel as though they weren’t being heard which often leads them to switch from speaking directly to you to perhaps having a full internal dialogue with themselves or even coming across as disconnected.
Summarize & Pause
Make sure that you are taking the time to digest everything that is being said – summarize it back after one of your friends take a break from talking so they can confirm if your understanding was correct. Also, pausing periodically will give the speaker a chance to jump back into the conversation and will show that you would like a turn yourself. It’s easier for speakers’ minds to wander without feeling connected!
By reading expressions you are able to tell the speaker if they are being understood or not. It’s also a way to show that you are still with them in what they are saying and that it is important. Try nodding along with the information, keep your facial features neutral when you feel like there aren’t any emotions connected to what was said, scrunching up your eyebrows when something doesn’t make sense, widening your eyes in surprise, etc.
Reflect & Ask Questions
If someone says something that causes confusion or frustration for you – reflect on their words by saying something like “you seem frustrated because?” This will encourage others to open up about their feelings without feeling judged while still showing that you care about what they have to say. It will also help you to clear up any misunderstandings that might have arisen.
Practice Active Listening
Active listening is a technique where we focus on the speaker, repeat or paraphrase what they’ve said back to them, and ask clarifying questions. This allows the speaker to feel heard and understood – which is often all they need in order to keep talking.
This one is a little tougher but definitely just as important! We all come into conversations with our own baggage and prior knowledge which can often lead us to judge what the speaker is saying without even giving them a chance. Remember that everyone has a different perspective and you never know when you might learn something new from someone if you just keep an open mind.
Similar to not judging, we also need to make sure that we’re not making any assumptions about what the speaker is saying. Just because you think you know what they are going to say doesn’t mean that you do – take the time to listen and see if your assumptions are correct.
This one is a little harder in the digital age but just as important! When we’re trying to focus on a conversation, having our phones out or being engaged in other activities can often lead us to lose focus and miss important bits of information that were said. try to put away all distractions and focus solely on the person who is speaking.
Use Silence Sparingly
Silence can often be intimidating for speakers – especially if they are new to giving presentations or speaking publicly. It can make them feel as though they are doing something wrong or that they are not being heard. try to use silence sparingly and only when necessary – allow the speaker time to breathe and to continue talking without feeling interrupted or overwhelmed.
This one is definitely a work in progress for most of us – but patience is key when it comes to listening! Often, we are so eager to share our own thoughts and stories that we forget to listen properly to what the other person is saying. It’s important that we take the time to hear everything that is being said and ask follow-up questions where necessary.
Get Comfortable with Discomfort
As humans, we are all afraid of being judged or rejected by others – but it can be difficult to not freak out when something is said that doesn’t quite make sense. Remember that good listeners will always try to understand the speaker’s perspective and feelings before making any judgements or assumptions about them – so push past your own insecurities and discomfort when necessary!
This one is definitely the icing on the cake! After a conversation, make sure to follow up with the speaker either through email, social media, or in person. This will help to solidify the information that was shared and will also show that you were paying attention!
Keep Learning And Practicing
The more you practice your listening skills and tricks, the better they will get! You might want to start jotting down notes on what was effective and what wasn’t during each. This way you can identify points of improvement and use them to develop your skills further. The more you do this, the better your listening capabilities will become!!
In conclusion, listening is a skill that should not be taken lightly! By following these 15 tricks, you can become a better listener in no time at all and improve your communication skills drastically. Have fun practicing and happy listening! 🙂