8 Ways to Be a Better Listener

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Listen Without Prejudice

It doesn't take a rocket surgeon to understand that effective listening is key to successful communication, but many of us are so tuned into problem-solving that we often don't take the time to actually absorb and hear what someone is saying before we offer up our ideas and solutions.

If you find yourself thinking of what you'll respond while someone else is still speaking, here are a few ways you can break that habit, become a better listener, and foster more effective communication.

Timing

Is this conversation happening at the right time?

Make sure you're not distracted, pressed for time, or focused on something else.

If there would be a better time for the conversation, be honest about it and set up a time to talk in the future.

Location

Where is the conversation taking place?

Ensure that your conversation is taking place with enough privacy (depending on the topic) and without excess noise or other distractions.

If not, suggest a new location that you think would enable you to engage better.

Calm

Is your mind calm and settled?

You need to be receptive, so take a moment to clear your mind prior to engaging.

Consider taking a five-minute meditation beforehand.

Body Language

Does your body language show that you're listening?

Uncross your arms and lean in slightly -- although there's no need to actually touch whoever is talking.

Contact

Are you making good eye contact?

Be sure that you're blinking regularly and not staring. You want to demonstrate your focus, not creep them out!

Absorb

Try to fully absorb what they're saying before asking any questions.

Consider listening for two minutes without saying anything -- you can nod your head or smile, but don't interrupt them.

Seek

When they've finished speaking, take the time to be genuinely curious.

Don't try to solve the problem while you're listening -- this will just distract you and may result in you only half-solving the half-problem you heard.

Question

To continue the conversation, ask clarifying questions that will foster a dialogue.

This is only necessary if you don't understand the speaker's perspective and you need more insight, but shouldn't inspire a discussion about the merits of what's been shared.

Ready for a New Challenge?

If you've already mastered these skills, consider challenging yourself to learn more!

Join us for our next Fearless Feedback: How to Give and Receive It class to put your skills to the test.

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