Although being an active listener doesn’t come naturally to many of us, it is a skill that can be learnt and refined. Here are some ideas to help you become a better listener.
Acknowledge that listening plays an important role in building relationships. Listening helps you to receive the messages that others are sending and it shows that you value them and your relationship with them.
Acknowledge that listening helps you to gain information more accurately about facts and feelings. It is important to remind ourselves that the messages that others are sending us contain information, feelings and their interpretations of events. Listening involves correctly picking up what is said, not said and communicated through non-verbal behaviours. Effective listening takes in all of these channels.
Remind yourself to listen actively. One of the best aids to better listening is being intentional about it. Before a meeting, just spend a moment thinking about how you are going to focus on others and really listen to them.
Try to not think of your reply while they are speaking. So often we miss what people are saying to us as we are thinking of our next lines which could be a rebuttal, new idea, great story or winning argument. The more we think about our replies, the less we listen to what is being said.There is time for framing our replies, but it should be built on the foundation of understanding others.
Look like you’re listening. If you are gazing into space or don’t look up from your computer, people will feel like you are not giving them your undivided attention.
Ask for clarity. Asking questions is a way of encouraging people to open up more to explain themselves. It can also be useful sometimes to reflect back, what you have heard them say. e.g. “I just want to check that I have understood what you have been saying…..”
Create time for listening. I must admit that this is one I need to work on. My mind races at a million miles an hour and I quite often find it difficult to slow down and really listen. Communication needs time, so let’s make sure we give this to others.
What things could you implement that will help you to be a better listener?
Try to be more aware of listening to others in the conversations that you have today.
“One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.”
Bryant H. McGill