Being a good listener is one of the most important aspects of effective communication.
Unfortunately, few of us are taught what good listening entails. Here are a few tips to help you be better for others.
Show You’re Engaged
Maintain eye contact and be conscious of your facial expressions. These are simple and fundamental gestures, but they make a huge difference. People can sense when you’re not paying attention because you’re checking your phone or are distracted by something else around you.
That being said, don’t use body language to simply pretend you’re listening. Many of us have been taught to look like we’re paying attention in order to seem polite. But genuine listening goes deeper than that. Instead of aiming to be polite, challenge yourself to be curious.
When someone’s talking, it’s easy for us to misinterpret or misunderstand someone’s feelings. When you feel a natural pause come up, take a moment to check in and reiterate where the other person is coming from. Ask clarifying questions and repeat back what they’ve said. This not only helps you understand their perspective, it also shows you’ve been listening.
Wait to Respond
Many of us don’t listen to just listen. Instead, we’re waiting for our turn to talk. But while we’re anticipating our turn, we’re missing out on what the other person is saying. If you feel inclined to interrupt or are trying to formulate a response in your head, hold off. Do your best to just be present.
Think Twice About Advice
Some people talk about problems because they want advice. But many of us just want to be heard. If you think you have the solution to someone’s problem, wait until they’re done speaking and use empathy to gauge their emotions. Are they looking for feedback? Or do they simply need support right now?
“When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.” -Ernest Hemingway