Being a good listener has many benefits, especially in the workplace. People with well-developed listening skills tend to be more productive, better problem solvers, and have healthier interpersonal relationships.
Today, I would like to share some of my observations and listening practices. Feel free to adopt and hopefully benefit from them!
It’s of course a bit obvious but certainly the most important prerequisite to develop your listening skills. Consider the below points while you pay attention to become a better listener:
Maintain eye contact- This indiates that you are with the person who you are talking to and focused on what the person is talking about.
Avoid or ignore distractions– Mainly noise and actions in your surroundings, but could be different thoughts popping up in your mind, too. Avoid such surroundings and distractions to have a focused listening habit.
Respond to engage– The speaker should feel that you are with to him/her with they talk to you, so you can nod your head, smile or use facial expressions and even say yes occasionally while you listen.
Be relaxed and empathize
Now that you made a good eye contact, no need to stare fixedly at the speaker, you can look away in between and carrying on like a normal conversation, being attentive and empathizing is important. To empathize, put yourself in the other person's place and allow yourself to feel what it is like to be that person now. It may be not easy as it takes energy and concentration. But it’s a generous thing to do that facilitates communication like nothing else, the effectiveness as a listener is assured as empathy is the heart of good listening.
Hold your thoughts, don’t Interrupt
It’s important to resist the urge of what you are going to say in return while listening. Of course, oftentimes the mind provokes instantaneous reaction and makes you speak up immediately, but instead of interrupting, try to wait for the speaker to pause. Ask your clarifying questions and give your thoughts then. However, sometimes if you are absolutely bursting with a brilliant solution or a worth sharing thought at that moment, then you can certainly ask for the speaker's permission to share that thought, ask like “Would you like to hear my ideas?
Understand well and give feedback
Although at the end of any conversation you never want to land up in a confused state of mind about the context or the conversation, right? So, you can certainly ask questions – keeping in mind the above said points - to ensure you are fully following. Interact enough to first understand and then respond to the same with your appropriate thoughts, opinions, although if you have really empathized in the conversation then your expressions and thoughts will automatically make the feedback relevant.
Let me know if you find these tips helpful. Do share your thoughts with comments!