How to increase your Active Listening skills
Listening is one of the most important skills that any person can have. How well you listen can have a major impact on your relationships, as well as your career.
Although most of us spend our daily lives listening to those around us, research has suggested that most people are not great at listening. We can listen to a boss, co-worker, family member, etc. for minutes on end and only “actually hear” less than half of what they are saying.
Clearly, listening is a skill that we can all benefit from improving. By listening, you can improve your productivity, persuasiveness, and negotiation skills. Also, you can avoid miss understandings and conflicts.
Here are a few tips on how to increase your active listening skills.
- Pay Attention to the person you are listening to.
It is important to recognize that non-verbal communication can also “speak” loudly. Give that person your undivided attention and acknowledge them.
- Look at the speaker directly.
- Put aside distracting thoughts.
- Don’t mentally prepare a rebuttal!
- Avoid being distracted by environmental factors. For example, side conversations.
- Show that you are listening.
Use your own body language and gestures to show that you are engaged in what the other person is saying.
- Nod occasionally.
- Smile and use other facial expressions.
- Make sure that your posture is open and interested.
- Encourage the speaker to continue with small verbal comments like yes, and “uh-huh.”
- Provide Feedback
As a listener, it is important that we reflect and process what is being said, and then respond. This could also mean asking questions in order to be sure you understand them correctly.
- Defer Judgment
Interrupting someone can be a waste of time, or even a bit rude. It may frustrate the speaker as well as limit your full understanding of what was being spoken about.
- Allow the speaker to finish each point before asking questions.
- Don’t interrupt with counter arguments, unless they are asking for your opinion on a debate.
- Respond Appropriately
Active listening is designed to encourage respect and understanding. You are gaining information and perspective.
- Be candid, open and honest in your response.
- Assert your opinions respectfully.
- Treat others how you would want to be treated.
All of these actions can help you become a better listener, which in turn can help you with personal as well as working relationships.