In a world with so much noise around us, active listening has become so much harder to do. The constant distractions and the need to be heard has made people more concerned about themselves than others and that is a problem. We have eight skills that will help you listen better and assist in making your communication skills more effective.
Related article: Are you listening?
The key to strong relationships in any aspect of life is dependent on communication. For communication to be effective, it cannot be one way. Conveying a message accurately and learning how to listen properly to others makes the system work.
1. Pay Attention
To help yourself listen better, you need to be prepared and focused for what the speaker may say to you. Stop talking, listen, and focus on what is being communicated to you. Giving the speaker your undivided attention will show that you are actively listening and that you are ready to be engaged in the conversation.
2. Focus On Speaker
Make the speaker feel at ease by offering constant nods, eye contact, and encouragement in the conversation you are having. Give them a nod or say yes every now and then, to acknowledge that you are listening to what is said.
3. Avoid Distractions
If you want to make your listening better, you need to be completely focused on the speaker and what the speaker is saying. Do not fiddle with objects, shuffle papers, or pick at your nails. These kinds of actions show your disinterest in the speaker and that could make them lose interest in talking to you.
4. Notice Non-Verbal Communication
The way the speaker moves and the tone of his/her voice should be of great interest to you. A skill to perfect is noticing what is not being said verbally. Their facial expression, hand gestures, and body language can say so much more than the actual words they speak, so “listen” with your eyes too!
5. Listen To Speakers Ideas
Have an open mind to what the speaker is saying to you. Empathise with them and look at the topic from their perspective before making any judgements of your own. It is better to appear open-minded than guarded or inflexible when listening, and if you disagree with the speaker, wait for them to complete their thoughts then make a rebuttal.
6. Be Patient
In trying to better your listening skills, your patience will be tested. When listening, be sure not to interrupt the speaker and allow them enough time to formulate their thoughts in the conversation. Also, avoid finishing people’s sentences for them as that may knock their confidence and it makes you seem rude.
7. Interpret What Has Been Said
This is probably the most challenging task of listening effectively. While you may hear what is being said, you actually need to understand what the speaker is trying to convey in their message to you. In order to listen better, really focus on the words and ideas to gain a full picture of what the speaker is communicating.
8. Provide Feedback
After you have understood and filtered everything the speaker has said, you will be given an opportunity to add your views and ideas to the conversation. Ask questions, add comments, and confirm what has been said to you. This will show that you have been listening with intention and are able to communicate with and to the speaker.
Listening is a skill we all should try to master. So often, we want to be heard and never want others to have their say. These eight skills to listening better will hopefully help you in your daily interactions with everyone and also improve, and strengthen your communication skills.
Written by Busi Nhlapo