How to be a better listener
Is listening a problem for you?
There is a reason why human beings only have one mouth but two ears – that is because listening is twice as difficult as talking is. This is why it is often necessary for people to actually practice listening before they acquire the skill known as listening well. Communication is a two way street; if a speaker is merely sending out signals that are not being absorbed by the passive participant – the listener – in this case, you – then he is wasting his time. In order for effective communication to take place, then information must be successfully transmitted from the speaker to the listener.
How do you make people listen to you?
The key to becoming a better listener is to put yourself in the position of the speaker that is not being listened to. Chances are, we will all find ourselves in this unfortunate position at least once in our lives that we are clearly aware of.
One of the clearest signs that you are not being listened to is if someone is blatantly looking off elsewhere while you are speaking to them. Perhaps you have important news to deliver to a spouse, but you find that they are holding the newspaper in front of their face, obviously not paying attention.
The way to make that person listen to you is simply call them out. Tell them to look at you directly – that is, make eye contact – and listen, as you have something important to tell them. Unless the person is angry with you for a specific reason, chances are they will do what you ask them to do.
How do I listen with my body?
Before becoming a good listener, you must first learn how to act like a good listener. By doing this, our body sends out clear messages that we are listening to what the person talking has to say.
In this day and age, we are taught from a young age to tune out a lot of the information that is thrust at us on a daily basis. In the process, we occasionally miss out on important bits information that might be useful to us – whether it be in our personal lives, our career, or both.
Once our bodies become receptive to listening, then our ears and minds follow suite. Since the human face contains the most receptive natural equipment on Earth, it is natural that our faces be tilted towards someone when they are speaking to us.
Another body part you can utilize to improve your listening skills is your eyes. If you are not looking at the person as they are speaking to you, chances are great that you are not really hearing what they are saying. The eyes are able to pick up on non verbal signs that a person sends out when they are speaking.
By establishing eye contact with the individual who is speaking, you are completing the eye contact that that individual is likely trying to make. By not looking at the speaker, you are forcing him to work harder at sending out information in order to get a receptive audience. By using your eyes, you are playing a central role in completing the communication circuit the speaker is struggling to establish.
Once face and eye contact have been established with the speaker, then things the speaker says must be reacted to via the use of non verbal signals. This should occur naturally; it is when your face makes expressions that respond to things the speaker has said. (You cannot do this if you have not been listening properly!) Thus, the listener’s face becomes an active component in the listening process.
Good listeners never interrupt. You cannot be listening if you are moving your mouth at the same time. If you feel yourself compelled to interject at a moment, use that energy instead towards listening to the final thought the speaker is attempting to complete. You can also employ “listening phrases” to affirm the speaker’s stance; these are phrases like “oh really?” and “uh huh,” and “I see.”
Do you want to become a master listener?
If the answer to that question is yes, then there are some things you will need to keep in mind.
Listening is typically thought of as a passive duty. In fact, the opposite is really true. Intensive listening should leave you feeling quite tired after a speaker has finished saying what they had to say.
If you do find yourself drifting away or tuning out a speaker, an effective way to combat this tendency is to shift your body position and concentrate on using one of the skills outlined above. Once one of those skills become perfected, the other skills will follow suite.