With all the modern technology that we have for communicating with each other even across the world, it seems that most people have forgotten how to communicate clearly with someone who’s standing right next to them. In particular, listening has become a lost art.
That’s too bad, too, because knowing how to listen effectively can bring you a lot of benefits. It can strengthen both personal and professional relationships. It can help your marriage and boost your career.
Consider using these listening techniques the next time someone wants to talk with you:
1. Give them your undivided attention. Your other activities during a conversation show the other person how important they are to you. When you pay attention only to them, not only does it uplift them, but you’re also more likely to fully understand whatever they’re saying and prevent miscommunications.
- Stop whatever else you’re doing.
- Put away your phone.
- Turn off other distractions, such as the TV.
- Stay in the present moment, which is listening to what they’re saying. Avoid the temptation to let your mind wander to other things (like what you’ll eat for supper) or move forward to formulate what you’ll say next.
2. Make eye contact. Failure to keep eye contact can make it seem as though you aren’t paying any attention to the conversation. One trick to help you maintain eye contact is to focus on just one of the person’s eyes at a time.
- You can look away momentarily from time to time, so it won’t appear as though you’re staring at them. Once you look away, though, bring your focus back to them quickly so that you won’t get distracted by something else. Also, this cues them that you’re still listening.
3. When they stop talking, first summarize what you just heard them say. This will help you clarify their meaning. Let them agree with your summary or make changes if they need to. It will then be possible for you to add your own perspective, thoughts, or any questions you may have.
4. Ask questions. Instead of trying to read someone’s mind, if you don’t understand what is being said, simply ask for clarification. This will ensure that no assumptions are made, and misunderstandings are avoided.
- Asking appropriate questions also lets them know that you were listening intently and trying to understand their perspective.
5. Avoid interrupting. However tempting it is to jump in with comments or solutions, keep quiet until they stop speaking and it’s your turn.
- Sometimes people are just looking to vent and get their issues off their chest. Let them finish. They’ll appreciate you and it may help them relieve their stress about the issue. By saying nothing, you can help them feel better!
Remember, others won’t always be able to recall everything you say in a conversation, but they’ll likely remember how you made them feel. You can uplift those around you, avoid misunderstandings, and strengthen your relationships by practicing these easy listening techniques each day.
Your partner, friends, boss, and clients will be impressed. Reap the benefits of knowing the lost art of listening!