How To Become A Good & Better Listener In Class, Relationship And Workplace (11 Action Tips That Work Fast)
If there is one thing that is very difficult to do, it is listening. Listening is an art and unfortunately, not many have mastered it. A lot of us only hear when people talk but do not actually listen to what they are saying. This is because more often than not, we are clamouring to get our own words out and so tend to only hear what the other person is saying.
Listening is very important. It shows empathy, understanding and care. When you listen to someone talk, you can actually sieve out the true intentions behind the veil of words.
Ever heard a case where a lecturer was teaching and suddenly the lecturer points at a random student and asks him/her to repeat what was just said few seconds ago and they could not? It is shocking because the student was sitting right in front of the lecturer the whole time but only heard the words.
We listen in every aspect of our lives and at all times- schools, work, home and in our relationships. Nothing beats communication in every human relationship. Unfortunately, the art of listening keeps diminishing on a daily basis. Speaking to someone face to face or having phone conversations is giving way to the use of laptops, computers, laptops, cell phones etc where we often text in abbreviated, disorganized and tactless manner more than half of which are often misunderstood.
Guide To Becoming A Better Listener At Work, Class And In Relationship
In the event that we do have face to face interactions, the gadgets turn us into addicts because we cannot keep our eyes and hands off them especially when we hear a beep. On a general note, if you wish to be a good listener, here are some tips to guide you:
Remove Every Form of Distraction
Just before having a conversation with someone or several people, try and remove or avoid every form of distraction. This is especially if it is a conference or meeting or somewhere official (it would be highly unprofessional if your phone rings out while a meeting is going on).
Therefore phones and laptops etc should be either turned off completely or muted so that you will not hear messages coming in. If you had something doing before and someone wants to talk to you, you can ask the person to wait behind. Alternatively, you can stop what you are doing altogether.
As much as being dexterous is all nice and fine, it is actually not permissible when and if you wish to truly listen to someone. Even the way you stare is part of the listening process. Eye contact goes a long way to show if you are listening or not. When someone is talking to you and you are not making eye contact with them or you make fleeting eye contacts, it only tells them that you are not paying attention.
There may be times when listening in a crowded place becomes impossible. In that case, try and move to a quiet place so you can give the person full attention.
Listen And Focus
If you are going to listen to someone, then just listen. Do not listen and then press your phone, or talk and interrupt. Do not start giving the person solutions already even if it is in their best interests. This may be difficult but you have to will yourself to.
Another thing you should never do is to cut someone short just because you already know the end of the story. Just be quiet and let the person finish before you start talking.
Be Plain And Honest
Being plain and honest is very important while listening. If for any reason you are in a rush or tired or just not mentally disposed to listen (listening is a mental activity), please let the other person know.
There comes a time when your mind reaches its full capacity and cannot just take anything else in. At this time, your mind begins to wander off on its own. What do you do? Let the other person know you probably need to take a break. You could just go out-sort of take a short walk, eat something, get a drink etc. You need that distraction in order to have renewed interest when the conversation resumes.
It is always better to have such breaks than to pretend to be paying attention when in all honesty you are not.
Reflect Their Emotions
The whole aim of listening is to give feedback on what the other person has said. You listened so that you can make your own contribution(s) after they are done talking.
Reflecting the other person’s mood is a great technique in effective listening. Try to show the other person that you were actually listening by matching their one of voice, speech mannerism, body language and gestures.
All these shows empathy and proves to the person that you were not just listening but understanding their true intentions.
It also builds a rapport between the both of you because it is like you are both on the same page. To create a stronger bond, you can reflect what the other person has just said. This particularly becomes very important in volatile situations/people and or people you are very close to.
Silence Is Golden
You ever heard that saying right? Nothing could be truer. Sometimes the best way to truly listen is to allow silence reign in the conversation. Sometimes, when someone is talking and you think they are done, they are actually not. It is possible they are taking time to gather their thoughts so if you start talking in that situation, they may withhold some information they wanted to pass across.
However if you were silent, it will invite the other person to open up more. This may be very uncomfortable but be sure to utilize its power. You cannot possibly go wrong.
Share Your Experience
It helps when you share what you have been through when someone is talking about a similar experience. You should do this at the appropriate time-say after the person is done talking or when there is an intermittent pause when you can share your opinions and experiences.
Take time while doing this and offer it in the most sympathetic of ways, so that it does not sound tardy or unsympathetic, like you are just giving a random piece of advice or opinion. Sharing personal experiences lends note weight and credibility to what you are saying.
Ask Thought-Provoking Questions
This is very important in the art of listening. It help you to uncover and unravel the bigger picture.
Asking close ended questions that require not more than a “yes or no” is not going to get you much out of the conversation.
Thought provoking questions simply one the ground for more questions and deeper insight. If the person makes a comment, you can ask a question based on that to sieve out more information. However when asking the questions, ensure you do not make it look menacing or threatening. The person should feel relaxed and not feel like they are in an interrogation room. Make it well-timed and articulated.
Do not Change the Subject
Sometimes you may be listening to something really boring and you just feel like tuning the person out. Avoid this as much as possible because it only tells the other person that you are rude. Allow the person talking to finish before you can politely interrupt or change the subject (if need be).
Most people are guilty of this as they are fond of changing the subject or even taking over the entire conversation because they feel they know more than the person talking. Even if you know more, do not leave the person hanging. Respond to what the person has said and make sure you close the chapter before moving on.
A lot of us are often in a hurry to talk without pausing to think first before responding. If you have been listening indeed, finding the appropriate response would not be difficult. The focus is not what you want to say but how the other person will react. So just before you respond, take a moment to think it through, especially on how it would affect the other person (more so when it is a delicate issue).
Summarize What Was Said
Your ability to summarize what was said in just a few words actually shows the others person that you were listening.
You can start it this way “so essentially what you are saying is, the long and short of the story is”… The importance of the summary is that it helps the other person to correct you in some possible areas where you may have erred.
While all these show how to be a good listener, listening to your partner (lover, spouse) requires a different type of skill. This is because there are sentiments and sometimes bias attached to it. You need to take your listening game a notch higher if you wish to achieve the desired impact.
Listen with Love
Your partner is not just any random person. When communicating with them, do so with tenderness and love. There are little things you can do to actually show them they have your undivided attention.
Make eye contact with them, reach out to touch them and hold their hands or legs (whichever you prefer), body languages or simply stopping everything you are doing to actually listen to them.
Listen and re-Listen
This becomes even more important when you are listening to your female partner. Women are naturally more sensitive than men so the attention you give her has to go ten steps higher.
The truth is that with how busy we are, there is hardly time for ourselves let alone our partners but this is no excuse if you wish to make your relationship better. After listening to what he/she has said, take your time to re-listen. It is often this time that we pick up subtle hints that they let drop in the course of the conversation.
You cannot listen to your colleagues or workers for several hours and then not do the same for your partner. Most people will argue that it is work and should be treated with all level of seriousness but not at the expense of your partner. He/she is also your business you know.
Listen Without Bias
Now this is very difficult because the moment it comes to your partner, emotions, heartstrings sentiments and definitely some elements of bias all kick in. This becomes more difficult when you both are having a conversation but have differing opinions where neither of you will budge.
In a situation like this, you need to step out of your own opinion box and listen to your partner’s views. The aim is not necessarily to be swayed by their opinion (although this may still happen) but to actually really listen to them and perhaps glean from them why they made the decision. The aim is usually to see things from their own perspectives and to understand why.
As said earlier, this does not mean you have to change your opinion just so it is in tune with theirs. What it means is that despite your differences, your partner still deserves to be listened to without having to feel they are doing something wrong by disagreeing with you. Essentially if you are listening to them, try not to weigh or screen everything they say based on what you ready believe in.
Having seen some of the ways one can be a good listener, let us take a look at some of the benefits of listening skills:
- Listening can help improve relationships in every areas of life career, personal and otherwise.
- It helps broaden your perspective because as you listen, you learn from different views some of which you may find helpful.
- It can help you avoid conflict and or misunderstandings. It can equally help you manage them properly without it escalating.
- It gives you access to some information which you ordinarily may not have access to.
Most people love those who can truly listen. In a world that is fast being overtaken by several distractions, having someone who listens is like a virtue.
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