Sometimes it seems like the best way to communicate is to speak your mind, but that doesn’t always work.
Many people are guilty of not listening and interrupting others while they try to talk.
This blog post will give you tips on how to improve your communication skills so that you can be a better listener in all aspects of life!
Most of us focus on our speaking skills, but they are just as important if you want to improve your listening skills.
Are we listening to engage or just waiting for an opportunity to speak out our thoughts? Most people don’t give importance while listening.
How would you feel if you speak for hours and the person on the other side didn’t hear a thing and ask a question you have already covered?
Listening helps people to understand the problem, connect with others, and build relationships.
How will you be able to serve your customer if you are listening to their problems?
Now let’s look at the tips to help you develop your listening skills.
- Make consistent eye-contact
- Avoid distractions
- Leverage body language
- Avoid conversation when stressed or overworked
- Pick up important points & let them know
- Understand the context of the speech
- Ask open-ended questions
- Stay updated with knowledge
- Practice listening at home
- Provide small encouragements
- Demonstrate Your Listening Skills By Paraphrasing
- Listen To Understand
- Adopt An Open Posture
- Communicate Active Listening With Mirroring
- Visualise what the speaker is saying
- Do not interrupt or impose your solutions
- Keep an open mind
- Anyone can become a good listener
- Exercise Listening Skills: Summarise, summarise, summarise!
Make consistent eye-contact
Would you prefer talking to a person who doesn’t make eye contact or the one who does?
Most of us are comfortable talking to a person with eye contact.
When a person makes eye contact, we feel connected, sense of importance, more obliged to speak & listen with more focus.
Personally, when I started my career, I was terrible at eye contact. I was one of the team’s top performers, and we had a meeting with the senior manager. I didn’t create a good impression with the manager, and I wasn’t aware of that.
Later, one of my seniors, my well-wisher, told me about that and suggested improving my eye contact when talking to people.
When I implemented it, I noticed a huge change in the way people talk to me.
Now, what does eye contact have to do with listening? It is about body language. When you talk to someone, how do you know the other person is listening to your words, just by seeing their body language and eye contact.
Also, when you maintain an eye-contact, you tend to listen to their words with more focus. It improves your listening skill.
Now, please don’t start a staring contest & make it awkward. You can blink in between and even look away at times, depending on the context.
Have you ever heard this saying, “Look at me when I’m talking to you?”
Mostly from our parents or teachers, you might have heard this. When you are looking at the person talking, you would focus more on them, listen actively, or be distracted.
Our attention span has reduced a lot due to social media and instant gratification.
You might be listening to someone, you hear a notification tone from your mobile, your total focus is shifted towards your phone, and it disturbs your concentration of listening.
Please turn off your mobile or put it on silent mode when you are in a conversation. You can also turn the brightness of the screen down so that it doesn’t distract you.
People spend their money with people they like and are comfortable with. If you don’t pay attention to what your clients and prospects say, then they will dislike you or probably go elsewhere for their needs.
Avoid putting the focus on yourself when you first meet clients and deliver exceptional customer service.
Getting to know the people you’re selling or serving is a major way to build a stronger relationship with them. Ask questions that may be answered by finding out what they are going for and what motivates them.
Leverage body language
Besides eye contact, nodding and smiling while you’re listening are the best ways to show your agreement and interest. Do not interrupt someone when they’re talking or wait for them to finish so that you can raise open-ended questions in a suitably polite manner.
A good indicator of your attentiveness when you are talking is the number of nods and smiles in response to what the other person says.
Watch out, though, because if you nod and smile a lot less than you think while listening to someone speak, it can make your conversations look like you agree with the speaker. This is not an effective method of communication and makes everyone else feel uncomfortable around you.
Avoid conversation when stressed or overworked
Make sure you avoid important meetings or discussions when time is short. It’s easy to waste time if your emotions are running high, and it can be difficult for your brain to concentrate at the same time.
You can also try a relaxation technique like meditation or yoga to ease the situation.
Pick up important points & let them know
Sometimes our attention gets a bit wander, and we begin missing important points in the conversations. Point out your confusion and convey your understanding to the speaker when they finish speaking.
Take any opportunity you get during a conversation to show your listener that you listen effectively and remember what they say. It will make the person feel valued and prove that you heard.
For example, even something small like recalling if someone doesn’t like a particular type of coffee can help build trust in your relationship.
Understand the context of the speech
People may not always think of listening in terms of the speaker’s perspective, but this is vital to improving your skills.
By understanding what they are trying to communicate and why it matters, you’ll be more likely to keep up with their train of thought.
Ask open-ended questions
If you did not understand some parts of the conversation, let the speaker know that and then ask questions to get more information.
The difference between closed and open questions is that the former are generally brief, while the latter allows more time to answer.
Stay updated with knowledge
Gather relevant information about the topic to contribute effectively and listen patiently when someone else is sharing their point of view.
Practice listening at home
Podcasting is a great way to improve your listening ability by testing yourself while listening. You can self-evaluate your listening skill or check with friends to find out your level of listening skills.
Dealing with the distraction can make it difficult to focus on someone else, but learning how to listen well is a surefire way to boost your personal relationships.
Provide small encouragements
When speaking with someone, it is best to maintain eye contact. You can also encourage a speaker by using words like “right,” “sure,” “yes,” and other fillers.
Demonstrate Your Listening Skills By Paraphrasing
Paraphrasing and summarizing are communication skills that help you make sense of a speaker’s points and demonstrate your listening.
For example, let’s say someone says they feel anxious because their presentation for work was terrible. You can repeat the sentence as “you are saying that you feel so much anxiety that makes sense why you felt so bad about your presentation at work.”
Not only is it important to pay attention to your listening skills but also the speakers. Be careful not to paraphrase what they say in any way that would be harmful or offensive, and then ask if you’ve provided a more accurate and thoughtful summary of their statement.
Listen To Understand
One important way to convey respect when you are listening is by displaying genuine interest in what the other person is saying. It can be difficult to refrain from interrupting conversations, changing the subject, or talking over others during a face-to-face conversation with another person.
If you go into every interaction with a genuine interest in others, your presence will feel more comfortable and inviting.
Adopt An Open Posture
When you practice listening, it is important to be aware of how your body affects the message.
For example, it’s common knowledge that folding your arms, tapping your feet, or pursuing the lips are all ways of showing displeasure or impatience.
One key quality of good listening is how your body communicates to others that you are receptive. To show openness, relax and consider leaning towards the speaker a bit.
Communicate Active Listening With Mirroring
One way to improve your listening skill is by mirroring the posture of the person you’re speaking to.
You can improve your listening skills by taking it slow and empathizing with a conversation partner.
It’s best to focus on nonverbal cues while listening. It can help mirror people during the conversation and mimic their posture, gestures, or words as they speak.
Visualise what the speaker is saying
Create a mental model of the information you hear; imagine every word or the key phrase communicated. When you start to visualise, you will be able to relate and remember even more.
When listening for long stretches, look for the words and phrases that are most important to remember. Determine what is said and why it is being said. Focus on understanding the reason behind the statement, even if you find yourself bored at first.
Do not interrupt or impose your solutions
I’m not sure that teaching children the importance of listening over interrupting has been getting through to them. Today loud, aggressive, in-your-face behavior is condoned and encouraged on a large majority of talk shows and reality programs.
When someone talks about a problem, refrain from offering solutions. The best thing you can do is let them work it out for themselves and be willing to offer support where needed. During the conversation (when they’re ready), ask permission to share an idea that will help.
Keep an open mind
Don’t judge the person you’re speaking to, and don’t judge yourself for getting triggered. If that person says or does something that alarms you, feel alarmed by it. It’s important not to be judgmental during a conversation, as doing so can compromise your listening skill.
Don’t jump to conclusions. Remember, the speaker is using language to represent their thoughts and feelings inside their brain. You don’t know what those things are, so only focusing on the words they say can lead you in the right direction of understanding where they are from.
Sometimes my partner might give focus on what I am saying, so he would interrupt and finish my sentences.
He usually lands too far off base because he follows his own train of thought and doesn’t know where my thoughts are.
After few times, I usually ask, “Do you want to continue this by yourself, or do you want to hear what I have to say?”
Anyone can become a good listener
Focus on your listening skills. Take a step back and let others do the talking. Try not to interrupt by offering your opinions, no matter how tempting they are. Make eye contact to convey that you are interested in what is being said.
It’s really important when you’re meeting with clients to show them respect and care for their feelings. It is your job as the person who will be presenting to summarise what they just told you. Take in all of that information before giving your presentation to make more sense and give an accurate view of what happened.
Your client genuinely wants to have a conversation with you. They want to feel heard, so they won’t do business with someone who does not listen.
Finally, don’t confuse hearing with listening. Hearing is the physical aspect when your ears process sound waves. Listening is processing the information in a way that provides understanding and context for what you are hearing.
Exercise Listening Skills: Summarise, summarise, summarise!
For at least one week, summarise conversations with others.
In terms of meeting, where you summarize could be used as MOM and help ensure future follow-up, it will feel comfortable.
But in other conversations, if parties involved feel awkward about you summarising, just explain that you are doing it as an exercise.
Now start practicing to improve your listening skill and do frequent self-evaluation to gauge your listening skill.
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