I did a course in my first year in school with the title “listening skills”. Prior to this, I didn’t realise that there was a difference between hearing and listening, however, at the end of that course, I was fully aware. And one key difference is that while hearing is passive, listening is active. It is possible for one to hear without actually listening and your response verbally and non-verbally to what is said shows the difference.
Everyone wants to be listened to, we all want people to acknowledge us when we speak, we want someone who we can tell our problems in order to console us or offer possible solutions.
Now, as much as everyone wants to be listened to, not everyone is working towards being a good listener. Being a good listener is not just about being attentive to the speaker, rather, it is about putting yourself in the person’s shoe, understanding without judging, showing sympathy without pitying.
Below are some things to do in order to be an excellent listener.
1. Don’t force the person to open up
Yes, this comes before the listening activity itself, however, it is key in any successful conversation. If someone asks to confide in you but is hesitant in speaking at first, be patient and don’t force the person into speaking. Let he or she open up at his or her own time in order to set smooth the conversation.
2. Don’t interrupt
No one likes to be interrupted and for someone who has deemed it fit to discuss an issue with you, the last thing expected is to be interrupted. Listen first, let your ears work faster and more active than your mouth.
3. Use appropriate body language
Nonverbal communication takes the largest part of our communication. In fact, research has proven that nonverbal communication helps amplify the meaning of utterances. A good listener makes use of good nonverbal communication cues like nodding to show agreement, maintaining eye contact, holding the person’s hands if need be. This shows the person that you are genuinely interested in the discourse and this encourages the person to speak up more. Do not show unnecessary shock at what is revealed as this may make the person withdraw.
4. Don’t judge
Yes, the speaker may have done something horrible, but he or she came to you for sympathy and not chastisement. Don’t judge the person, rather correct in love and do not try to compare with some other situation.
5. Think before speaking
Don’t just give what was said a surface examination, rather, think deeply about what was said before giving a reply.
A good listener remembers what he or she was told without the speaker having to constantly repeat what was said. Remembering the details or important pieces of information from what is said gives your speaker a reassurance that he or she was being acknowledged and paid attention to during the conversation.
7. Limit distractions
Distractions could come in diverse ways, from the environment, your phone, television, etc. Try to control the distractions you can: your phone, television, And try as much as possible to take your eyes off other distracting elements around you.
8. Follow up
Beyond the conversation, a good listener usually follows up the speaker in order to check the progress of the situation and also to make the speaker know that you value him or her and actually have him or her on your mind. This would make the person able to rely more on you in the future. However, do not nag and respect the person’s wish if he or she does not want to discuss the issue anymore.
And don’t forget, being a good listener is not a huge deal. Patience is very key here.
Be a better listener from today!
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