But how do you become a great listener? How do you truly listen to another person? Here are my top four listening tips:
#1 Make Eye Contact
Making eye contact during the conversation shows the person they truly have your attention. If you are not making periodic eye contact it can send the wrong message. The message: “They aren’t even listening to what I’m saying”. And whether you are really listening to them or not, lack of eye contact can negatively affect how you are perceived. Looking around the room instead of at the person who is speaking to you can even convey to others that you’re untrustworthy. Now this could be far from true, maybe you’re just uncomfortable making eye contact, which is very common. If that’s the case, a way around that is to look directly above the eyes at the eyelid or at the space between the eyes.
#2 Put Yourself into their Shoes
Empathize with them. As your friend is telling you a story or relaying a life event, image yourself there with them. What would you feel like if these events were happening to you? As they speak, envision the scenario is happening to you now. How would it make you feel? What would be your response to that circumstance? Would you do what your friend did or something else? Where would it lead you?
#3 Repeat their own words back to them.
It gives the person you’re speaking with the immediate feeling that you understand them. They will be more open to what you have to say. It will allow for a freer exchange of ideas and information and start you off on a better path for future communications. This technique also eliminates possible misunderstandings because you know what the other person wants because you actually repeated it out loud back to them.
Additionally the repeat technique will jog your brain to ask questions. Because if you repeat what they say and your mind isn’t quite understanding the scope of what they are saying, you will then ask them questions. It causes you to instinctively dig deeper. This tool is super effective in improving conversations and is a sorely underutilized component in today’s day to day communications whether it’s socially, personally, or professionally.
#4 Don’t be thinking about what you want to say while the other person is talking
This is a big one, and I think we are all guilty of this. Already having a response or thinking about your response while the other person is speaking. It’s hard to truly listen if your mind is making snap assumptions and quick responses internally before the other person has finished what they are saying. Performing step #3 will naturally lead you to think more about what the other person is saying because you will be repeating it. But during those times when your tongue is silent try to make your mind silent as well and really listen.
Thanks for reading and happy listening!!