Becoming A Better Listener
Listening skills are so often overlooked, despite being a vital aspect of the human communication process.
It’s a soft skill that doesn’t make the spotlight very often. While speaking is often practiced and emphasized, the art of listening isn’t one on which we find people spending much effort at. The reality is people don’t very often listen with the intention to hear more so they listen with the intention to reply. Although, listening as a skill is easy and can be improved by following just a few simple steps.
Are you ready to Improve Your Listening Skills?
For you to be a good listener means that everything you hear comes directly from the speaker and not from your interpretation of their words. This means that, as the person speaking is talking, you are listening to the words that are being spoken instead of trying to push the conversation to the point that the speaker is trying to make.
Most people are quite often guilty of jumping to conclusions and when they do this they disrupt their listening ability. Their mind has jumped forward to trying solving and preparing a reply blocking out further information. When jumping to reply mode, the person often doesn’t hear the speaker’s message because it is blocked out by his or her own assumptions. Now, a good listener takes the time to absorb all of the information while the words are being spoken and avoid thinking ahead and forming their own conclusions.
One of the greatest signs of respect we can give is to give the speaker your undivided attention while they are talking and probably one of the most important tips to good communication. Concentration on the person who is talking and the conversation and avoids tuning out their words. Many times, when people are speaking on the phone, many people will engage in other activities such as reading, checking email and other activities that will distract from the conversation. Many listeners also are guilty of zoning out during face-to-face conversation by either thinking about their response to the speaker or by allowing their mind to wander off about something completely unrelated to the subject.
Unfortunately, when you allow yourself to be distracted, your skills are not what they need to be. When this occurs you could be missing a critical point of the speaker’s presentation can be the result of just a small amount of distraction. If you can focus your attention completely on the speaker, you will hear all that is being said. In addition, you can ensure that you are being a good listener and are taking in all of the pertinent information needed.
One technique of being a better listener involves creating mental images of the speaker’s words. This is a way of visualization that allows you to really comprehend the words you are hearing. These visualization skills can enhance the way that people process information. By using these mental images, you will help improve your listening skills by retaining the information you have just heard. This enhanced and improved comprehension makes you a better listener. If the speaker is designing images or setting up a story create this within your mind to help focus on what is being said.
Taking care to note your body language can be another way to be a good listener.
You can offend your listener if you engage in body language that lets the speaker feel that he or she is not being listened to. Behaviors such as avoiding eye contact, crossing your arms or wincing can send a message to a speaker that you are not really listening to them. If you are positioning your body away from the speaker or looking distracted; these types of body language or mannerisms can result in the conversation being cut short because the speaker does not feel you are interested in what they are saying. As well as it gives the speaker a sense of lack of respect with this type of behavior.
You can also consider asking questions that relate to the speaker’s statements. This technique can also help you to improve your listening skills. As long as you are not distracted thinking of questions to ask and not truly listening to the speaker. Remember to ask questions without allowing your questions to interfere with your listening ability. If you find yourself focusing on one of the speaker’s key points and spending the rest of the conversation trying to think of a question that addresses that point, you will miss a lot of information.
Instead, try asking your questions immediately when you think of them. This way, you can have your question answered in the context of the speaker’s presentation without having it affect your listening abilities. When you ask questions as part of listening, it allows the speaker to recognize that his or her presentation is being followed and that you are interested in learning more about the topic. If you are unable to ask right away then take a moment to write the question down so that you do not find yourself focused on not forgetting your question and still on the conversation at hand.
If you continually practice your skills, you will be well on your way to becoming a better listener.
Try making a conscientious effort to use your skills each time you speak to someone.
Work on remaining completely focused on the conversation and try not to guess what the speaker is going to say. Create mental images of the words being spoken and ask valid questions to confirm what you have just heard, when appropriate. Each time you have the opportunity to listen, try to work on these important listening skills.
While listening is not as widely practiced as speaking in the art of conversation, it is just as important if not more important. When you are an excellent listener, you will not only ensure that you are receiving information but will assure the speaker that you care about the information being presented and that you understand their message.
These are not the only ways to help improve your listening skills to be a better communicator, but it is a great start to practice at. If you can use some help becoming a better listener and communicator reach out to me for a meet and greet and let’s see what we can do to bring your skills to the next level.
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