How To Be An Exceptionally Good Listener

Do you know that the word listen contains the same letters as the word silent?  Listening is a bit like intelligence—same thing goes for silence. Not everyone can listen when necessary and not everyone can be silent when necessary. Listening is a skill everyone wants to be great at. A recent study showed that listening can influence up to 40% of a leader’s or follower’s job performance and even in a regular relationship.

There’s so much talking at work/home that gives so many opportunities to listen well. We talk to provide feedback, explain instructions, and communicate deadlines. Beyond the spoken words, there is invaluable information to be deciphered through tone of voice, body language, and even what isn’t said.
In other words, failing to keep your ears (and eyes) open could leave you out of the game. Most people believe that their listening skills are where they need to be, even though they aren’t. Almost everybody rate themselves as listening as well as, or better than their co-workers. But many of them are wrong.

Image result for cartoon images of good listener

Effective listening is something that can absolutely be learned and mastered. Even if you find attentive listening difficult and, in certain situations, boring or unpleasant, that doesn’t mean you can’t do it. You just have to know what to work on. Here are some straightforward strategies that that can help you become a good listener:

1. Focus:

The biggest mistake most people make when it comes to listening is they’re so focused on what they’re going to say next or how what the other person is saying is going to affect them that they fail to hear what’s being said. The words come through loud and clear, but the meaning is lost. Focusing may seem like a simple suggestion, but it’s not as easy as it sounds. Your thoughts can be incredibly distracting. Learn to keep focus and you would be surprised you will understand the speaker and your response will come easily.

2. Put away your phone:

It’s impossible to listen well and monitor your phone at the same time. Nothing turns people off like a mid-conversation text message or even a quick glance at your phone. When you commit to a conversation, focus all your energy on the conversation. You will find that conversations are more enjoyable and effective when you immerse yourself in them and not in your phone.

Image result for cartoon images of drop phone

3. Ask good questions:

People like to know you’re listening, and something as simple as a clarification question shows not only that you are listening but that you also care about what they’re saying. You’ll be surprised how much respect and appreciation you gain just by asking good questions. In addition to verifying what you’ve heard, you should ask questions that seek more information. Examples of probing questions are “What happened next?” and “Why did he say that?” The key is to make certain that your questions really do add to your understanding of the speaker’s words, rather than deflecting the conversation to a different topic. But don’t as unnecessary or annoying questions because they can push the conversation to a halt.

4. Practice reflective listening:

Psychologist Carl Rogers used the term “reflective listening” to describe the listening strategy of paraphrasing the meaning of what’s being said in order to make certain you’ve interpreted the speaker’s words correctly. By doing this, you give the speaker the opportunity to clarify what she meant to say. When you practice reflective listening, don’t simply repeat the speaker’s words to her. Use your own words to show that you’ve absorbed the information. Do that politely in order not to sound like you are mocking the person.

5. Use positive body language:

Becoming cognizant of your gestures, expressions, and tone of voice (and making certain they’re positive) will draw people to you like ants to sugar. Using an enthusiastic tone, uncrossing your arms, maintaining eye contact, and leaning towards the speaker are all forms of positive body language employed by great listeners. Positive body language can make all the difference in a conversation. Unlike coughing loudly after a statement from them, looking around to show disinterest or shaking your legs to show impatience. These are negative body languages that can turn off a conversation.

6. Don’t pass judgment:

If you want to be a good listener, you must be open-minded. Being open-minded makes you approachable and interesting to others. No one wants to have a conversation with someone who has already formed an opinion and is not willing to listen. Having an open mind is crucial, where approachability means access to new ideas and help. To eliminate preconceived notions and judgment, you need to see the world through other people’s eyes. This doesn’t require that you believe what they believe or condone their behavior; it simply means that you quit passing judgment long enough to truly understand what they are saying.

7. Keep your mouth shut:

If you’re not checking for understanding or asking a probing question, you shouldn’t be talking. Not only does thinking about what you’re going to say next take your attention away from the speaker, hijacking the conversation shows that you think you have something more important to say. This means that you shouldn’t jump in with solutions to the speaker’s problems. It’s human nature to want to help people, especially when it’s someone you care about, but what a lot of us don’t realize is that when we jump in with advice or a solution, we’re shutting the other person down. It’s essentially a more socially acceptable way of saying, “Okay, I’ve got it. You can stop now!”. Give the person time to express himself, listen, understand before saying your own mind.

Image result for cartoon images of good listener

Effective listening isn’t something you can do on the go. It requires a conscious effort and your determination. But if you diligently engage in the above tips, you may not have a problem with effective listening.


Why not share your thoughts about this post here......