One of the most critical skills that is often overlooked in everything from our schooling and throughout our childhood learning path is the art of being an effective listener. If one cannot listen with intent, process the information received then respond accordingly the entire act of communicating effectively is compromised. I’ve often thought how nice it could be if there were no gaps in the communication train and everyone would seamlessly transition from one subject to the other and everyone understood where the other stood, unfortunately life is a little more challenging than that and at times downright difficult. So in order to ease frustrations in the workplace or in at home relationships I’ve utilized these 5 ways to become a better listener and they are as follows:
#1-Clear the head. Before engaging in the conversation I always do a little “Mind Clearing” exercise where I separate current thoughts from ones about to occur and it goes like this…Quick inventory of current thoughts and pending issues then a 5 count back…5,4,3,2,1…showtime. What this does is stops current thought processes just long enough to begin a new string of informative input (your next conversation) to allow you to have a more “focused” beginning to the conversation which brings me to the next point.
#2-Focus. In order to focus, a strong effort to minimise external stimuli should happen, everything from the “no brainer” acts of turning off your beloved digital devices, to clearing a physical space (with no visual distractions) to creating a “Do Not Disturb” period or block of time.
#3-Verbally Affirm-Show that you are absorbing what the other person is saying by strategically interjecting words of “I understand” and reaffirming a statement with “I see your point exactly.”
#4-Use Body Language-It backs up Verbal Affirmation, square your body up with the person you are listening to and as points are made to you a simple nod of the head with direct eye contact confirms that you are “actively listening.”
#5-Always Participate-Engage a little more by asking a question or two, even if you know the answer already it allows the other individual to reinforce an idea shared and allows their confidence level to rise as it gives them a chance to reaffirm to you that they have everything under control.
Hopefully with these small personal tips of mine perhaps some of you can become awesome listeners and really engage friends, coworkers and loved ones effectively!