Whether you’re meeting a client for business or simply chatting with a friend, good listening skills will benefit you in successfully facilitating a relationship. We’ve all had discussions or have been in an argument with another person, and we all want to reveal what’s on our mind. It’s perfectly fine, and even encouraged, that you should be allowed to speak openly about your opinion on a subject during a discussion. Unfortunately, most people get too caught up in their own opinions or thoughts that they begin to lack good listening skills. We’re all so eager to get our point across, but in having this mindset, we close ourselves off to any outside ideas or thoughts. Here are several tips you can use to become a better listener.
Clear your head. We tend to have many thoughts buzzing around in our head when having a discussion with someone, and these thoughts are probably focused on what we want to say next. It’s always good to think about what you’re going to say before you speak, but you shouldn’t decide what you want to say before hearing the other person’s side in its entirety. By thinking that your next thought is more important than someone’s current thought, you can come across as arrogant, and it’s a definite sign that you’re not truly listening to what the other person is saying. Try to clear your mind so that you can focus on the information you gather from the person speaking.
Maintain eye contact. It’s regarded as rude when a person doesn’t maintain eye contact with the person they’re speaking to. Looking at anywhere but the person speaking can make them feel like they don’t have your full attention. Most people are not aware that they are even doing this, but you should remind yourself to look at the person you’re listening to so they know they have your full attention. Some people find it can be a bit awkward to look at someone in the eyes, and this skill can take some practice. Eventually you’ll become more comfortable keeping eye contact during a conversation.
Don’t assume. There’s a misconception that we should just know how someone is feeling without truly hearing them out. You may think you’re helping that person, but this implies that you know what’s best for another person. Instead of trying to guess what the other person is feeling, simply ask them open-ended questions. Let that person explain their feelings and opinions to you how they want to rather than making assumptions. Part of being a good listener isn’t always about having good advice and responses, it’s more about being an outlet for that person to vent or inform.
Repeat back what was said. You don’t need to repeat everything that was said, but occasionally summarize or clarify the general point. This will show that you were actively listening to the person speaking to you.
Good listening skills are one of the many traits of a successful individual. People appreciate being listened to just as much as you would like to be. If you show respect and understanding during a conversation, then you – in turn – will receive the same respect. You’ll also be able to respond in a more sound and intelligent way if you open yourself up to other’s opinions. If you don’t know where to start to hone your listening skills, use these tips as a foundation.