I don’t know about the majority of people out there, but I have a serious gap when it comes to listening. I hear and can respond pretty well to anything I hear but sometimes, there’s just too much going on in my head and I don’t listen. It is definitely something I would like to improve.
Here is an article I found on all4women…
To be a better communicator, you will first need to become a better listener. Having the ability to really listen to another person helps to build strong interpersonal relationships – socially and professionally. Being a better listener is a key element in your communication with and management of people.
Read the steps below if you would like to learn how to become a better listener.
1. Evaluate your listening abilities
Take a look at yourself when you are in a conversation with other people. Evaluate how you listen to them and determine if there are areas on which you need to work to become a better listener.
2. Practise focusing on the conversation and on the person to whom you are talking
Work on not becoming distracted by the things that are going on around you. Try not to let your mind wander. This also goes for phone conversations. Multitasking while you are on the phone, even though it seems efficient to you, will distract you and this habit will be carried over when having a face-to-face conversation too. Concentration on the conversation will assist you to become a better listener.
Point 2 for me is a real bugger (when I think of my attention span ADD is an understatement – more like a gold-fish memory, yes that’s about how long my attention span lasts)…. What gets me is that most companies require you to be a multitasker, but they don’t realise that you are less productive when you multitask, more mistakes are made.
3. Stop anticipating what the other person is going to say
This tip works especially well when having a disagreement with someone, but it can be implemented in all conversations. Many times we try to anticipate what the other person is going to say and, in doing so, formulate a response. This is distracting and will be damaging in your efforts to become a better listener. Listen carefully first – then formulate your response.
I think it is human nature to formulate a response while the other person is still talking. We are equipped with this amazing brain that can from one word jump to conclusions, and unpack years of stored data. Something simple can unlock knowledge and memories. So to quiet ones mind might seem an impossible task. but others have done it and so can you.
4. Empathize with the person with whom you are conversing
To become a better listener, try to put yourself in your conversation partner’s place. Imagine how they might feel as they are speaking to you. Try to validate what they are saying. An easy way to do this would be to condense and repeat back to the person what they had just said to you. Try to use your own words, but still keep the essence of what they said.
But is this not considered interrupting, some people really get annoyed when you do this. I know it is a form of acknowledgement and in a sense helps your mouth that is begging to get a word in some satisfaction while it is still ‘shutting up’.
5. Respond when appropriate
A key way that someone knows the person they are speaking to is really connected to the conversation would be by how much the other person contributes. This can be in the form of questions or, as was mentioned above, just repeating what was said. This makes for better communication and will help you to become a better listener.
Like the previous point, is this not considered rude. When I do this and my question directed to see if I understand os wrong, then some consider this as interrupting and not listening to what they are saying. Which makes these last two points depended on who you are actually dealing with.
6. Take note of body language
Communication occurs verbally and in subtle forms through body language. It really helps the conversation if you can learn how to interpret these signals. Many people become better listeners by subconsciously picking up on body language signals. It’s also important to look for the emotion behind the words being spoken. If this happens, the person might be sending you a mixed message and that would be your cue to ask questions.
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