Are you often misunderstood? Would you like to increase your professional opportunities and get greater satisfaction from your interpersonal relationships? Most people who struggle with communication think about enhancing their oral communication or public speaking skills but few think to improve listening skills. Listening is an important part of the communication process, but it’s not given the attention it deserves.
Consider implementing these strategies to improve listening skills:
1. When someone is talking to you, try to stay fully focused on the conversation. Because most of us can’t do two things at one time (or at least do them well), stop whatever else you may be doing when someone is talking to you to improve listening skills.
* If you’re unable to pause what you’re doing, let the person know. Ask them to stop speaking for a bit, and mention briefly why you’re asking them to wait.
* Say something like, “Can you hang on just a minute? I’m adding up some figures. As soon as I’m finished, I can listen to you.”
* Avoid trying to communicate with others while watching television or working on the computer because these distractions will hamper your efforts to really listen.
2. Body language is important to listening. You can improve listening skills by turning your body toward the person speaking.
* Leaning toward the person who’s speaking demonstrates that you’re paying attention.
* Refrain from performing tasks that require you to turn your body away from the speaker, for example, doing dishes or other tasks.
3. Make and maintain eye contact with the speaker. In most western cultures, eye contact sends the message, “I hear you and I’m listening.”
* Furthermore, holding eye contact with the speaker communicates, “You have all of my attention at this moment.”
* Be aware that the meaning and impact of eye contact does vary from culture to culture. So, if you regularly interact with cultures other than your native culture, I suggest you learn about their view on eye contact. In some cultures, it could be considered rude.
4. Refrain from trying to think about how you want to respond while the person is speaking.
* Focus your thoughts on the speaker’s words.
* Your goal in listening is to grasp what the speaker is trying to tell you, not to draft your response.
5. Share what you understood the person to say with them. When the speaker stops talking, taking a moment to check out what you heard also improves listening skills.
* Try stating aloud back what you believe you heard.
* Here’s an example: “So, you can’t pick up the kids after school today because you have a dental appointment at 3:00 p.m. You want me to pick them up, right?”
6. Let the speaker clarify. As the listener, stating what you heard allows the speaker to correct or clarify his remarks. The speaker then can give you confirmation or correction like, “Yes, that’s right. Can you do it?” or “No, I’m not talking about today, I’m asking you to pick up the kids tomorrow because of my dental appointment.”
7. Don’t forget to improve listening skills in personal relationships also. If you’re in a relationship, listening skills are important building blocks to strengthen the relationship.
* A common complaint of people in relationships is, “My partner doesn’t listen to me.”
* Because partners communicate daily, it’s easy to get lazy with applying good listening skills at home.
When you understand what you’re being told or asked, effective listening takes place. If you believe you could benefit by focusing more on people who are speaking to you, you aren’t alone. I am very confident in my speaking skills but know that I could stand to improve listening skills especially when talking on the phone. What about you? Could you stand to improve your listening skills? You’ll be a better communicator and your relationships with others will thrive!
I hope you’re planning a POWERFUL day!