I’m sure we’ve all heard since the time we were young that we need to learn to listen. I know my mom said this to me at least three times a day on a daily basis. I know we all hear the world going on around us, people having conversations as they pass you on the street, the newest song on the radio, the news, social media, etc. Are we really listening though? Do we understand the fundamental difference between hearing and listening? It’s the intention behind listening that sets it apart from hearing. Hearing is simply one of our six senses, whereas listening is an action. Listening is a choice.
Making the choice to tune in to what is being said can make all the difference in the outcome of an interaction. For instance, when we make a mistake and someone has to come to us about how that mistake affected them, although we may not be able to correct that mistake, by actively listening to how our actions have directly affected another will show them that we understand and care. Often that is enough to bring peace and understanding, which is most often all the situation required to reach a solution.
To be an active listener, Forbes.com recommends 10 easy steps.
- Face the speaker and maintain eye contact.
This allows the speaker to clearly see that they have your undivided attention, enabling them to freely speak their mind.
- Be attentive.
If you’re distracted, the person you’re meant to be listening to will either also become distracted or may become discouraged.
- Keep an open mind.
You wouldn’t want any preconceived notions of yours to hinder your understanding of the other person’s perspective. Don’t allow yourself to be distracted by your own thoughts, feelings, or biases.
- Try and picture what the speaker is saying.
Visualization can only aid in your understanding and can help retain the information. Train your mind to create a model or chart of the information you’re taking in. Keeping concepts organized will only strengthen your understanding.
- Don’t interrupt.
The last thing you want to do is stop someone’s train of thought and miss out on where it was going.
- Wait for a pause to ask clarifying questions.
If the other person is a strong communicator, they will provide an opportunity to ask questions because making sure that you understand is crucial to what they hope to accomplish
- Ask questions only to ensure understanding.
You don’t want to distract from the intended purpose of the person talking
- Try to feel what the speaker is feeling.
In order to experience empathy, you have to put yourself temporarily in the other person’s place.
- Give the speaker regular feedback.
The idea is to provide proof that you are listening, not speak over their dialogue. So a nod or an affirmation like “oh I see” would suffice.
- Pay attention to non-verbal cues.
You never want to miss what isn’t being said out loud. It’s possible to detect enthusiasm, boredom, or irritation solely by paying attention to body language.
These 10 tricks to aid in active listening can teach us that words only convey only a fraction of the message. A well-rounded approach is the best strategy for honing such a skill. It helps build relationships, solve problems, ensure understanding, resolve conflicts, and improve accuracy. At work, effective listening means fewer errors and less wasted time. At home, it helps develop resourceful, self-reliant kids who can solve their own problems. Listening builds friendships and careers. A divorce attorney such as Brandy Austin Law Firm, PLLC would also tell you it saves money and marriages. The intrinsic value of listening knows no bounds.