Listening is a skill that everyone thinks he or she has, but not everyone is as good at it as he or she could be. Truly listening to people involves much more than simply hearing the words coming out of their mouth.
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You listen for many reasons, but active listening is a tool that takes some practice and skill to get it right. Fortunately, it’s something you can practice on a daily basis. Good listening skills are beneficial for building healthy relationships, excelling at work and much more. Here are some easy ways for you to become a better listener.
Focus On The Conversation You’re Having
It’s easy to get distracted during a conversation, but active listening requires tuning out what’s going on around you and focusing completely on what the person is saying. Hearing the words is important, but so is getting a picture of the message the person is trying to convey. Experts suggest mentally repeating the words so that they are further ingrained on your brain. That way, you hear and understand what is being said to you and you remember it in the future.
Take A Few Deep Breaths
If you’re having a stressful or difficult conversation, you may find yourself holding your breath. What this does is close your mind off to the words and message of the conversation because your brain needs oxygen to function. Try it. Hold your breath and see how well you are able to pay attention to what’s going on around you. Chances are you are so focused on the feeling of not breathing, that you miss something. Throughout a conversation, be sure you are taking normal breaths so that your brain can concentrate on the conversation instead of a lack of oxygen.
Don’t Be Uncomfortable In Silence
Natural inclination drives us to fill silence. It can be uncomfortable to come to a standstill in a conversation. However, good listeners understand that silence provides the other person a chance to collect his or her thoughts and continue telling you what they mean to say to you. When there is a lull in the conversation, you can run through what’s already been said to be certain you are clear and that you understand the message of the words.
Say It Again
When someone is done speaking to you, rephrase and repeat what’s been said so that you are both clear on where things are going. This allows you to validate the person’s words and ensures that he or she feels heard and understood. You can say something like, “I’m hearing that…” or “What I understand is…” Both statements are effective ways to go over the conversation so you both know where you stand.
You don’t have to use each of these tips for each casual conversation. When you’re discussing the weather or the upcoming baseball game, it’s silly to go through all of these steps. However, they are important when you are having a serious conversation with someone. That includes when you are having a disagreement with your spouse or child, when you are discussing a project at work with your boss or when someone is asking for your advice about something.
Being a good listener won’t happen overnight, but with plenty of practice, you will be an old pro in no time. When people know that you are a good listener, they are apt to come to you about important things that need to be discussed. This is valuable for relationships of all kinds. You’ll be so glad you took the time and effort to become the listener that people need you to be.