7 Steps to Becoming a Better Listener
Mindful listening is an integral part of any coach, leader or even friend’s skill set. It creates the ability to establish relationships and build bonds with others. Holding a simple conversation may not seem like it requires a lot of skill, only participation, but to really get to know someone, it takes the ability to listen to them. The biggest mistake people make in dialogue is to focus on their own responses to what is being said, but unintentionally missing portions of what the other person is saying. This habit can be hard to break, but well worth practicing in order to improve listening skills. This also limits the ability to see things from another person’s perspective since your own perspective has become the focus of your thoughts in order to build up a response, especially if the conversation is quite involved. There are some habits which can be formed to assist with improving your ability to listen and therefore, make conversations more valuable.
- Learn from the other person by mindfully listening to what they are saying. Avoid creating responses while they are still talking. This may seem counterintuitive as it can lead to pauses in the conversation while you form a response, but this can be alleviated with simple saying “you make an interesting point, let me think about it for a second.” Most people will appreciate that you didn’t jump to your own conclusions right away.
- Repeat back what the other person has said to show you were listening. This is especially helpful to make sure what you heard it what they meant. This also allows you to absorb their information in order to better understand not only their point of view, but what your point of view might be as well.
- Make eye contact and show interest in the other person. Avoid staring at them and keep your stance casual, but appearing to be interested goes a long way in providing a level of comfort and trust to the other person. Add in nodding where applicable to show body language of interest and understanding.
- Avoid distractions. Ignore your phone, even turn off the ringer if the conversation looks to be a longer one. Find an area that is less travelled and therefore less likely to have interruptions from passersby.
- Don’t assume you know what they are thinking or what they meant when they said something vague. Ask for clarification so the conversation can continue to flow in a positive way.
- Be honest in your responses. If you don’t know something, say so.
- Watch the other person’s body language for clues to not only what they are saying, but their responses to what you are saying. This also goes for your own body language during the conversation. Make sure your body language is appropriate to the current conversation and show attentiveness.
Improved listening can help in both work and personal conversations and improve your connections. Practice these habits with each conversation to improve your skills and relationships.
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