Listening is the other half – perhaps the better half of all conversations. Unfortunately, a lot of folks use passive listening, not active listening when communicating with others. Passive listening is when you are distracted, not making eye contact, and interrupting the other person to get your point across. Active listening involves being fully present, understand what the other person is saying, and then responding. Active listening encourages respect and understanding. Listening skills and how you improve yours can enhance your professional and personal life.
Tips for Effective Active Listening:
- Ignore distractions. Give the speaker your full attention. If you notice your mind wandering, bring it back to the subject at hand. Avoid looking out the window or across the room.
- Show that you’re listening. Make eye contact, nod your head occasionally, make appropriate facial expressions. Make sure that your posture is open, not closed. Avoid crossing your arms on your chest.
- Listen for the main points. It’s usually more effective to focus on understanding the key points that someone is making, rather than trying to etch each word into your memory. Listen as though you were taking notes even if you’re not.
- Withhold judgment and hear people out. Let people present what they have to say without being interrupted. Concentrate on what they’re saying rather than formulating your own response.
- Ask questions to show interest, clarify, and summarize. When you don’t understand something, ask a question to clarify what the other person is saying. Also, ask relevant questions to what they are saying and when the person is finished you can summarize what the person said, to confirm you heard them correctly and show you are interested.
Becoming an active listener can build stronger relationships, enhance your career, and helps avoid conflict. Active listening is the foundation of effective communications. By the way, active listening works in your personal life as well. Give it a try and see how your relationships improve.