If you’re like most people, you probably think you’re a pretty good listener. After all, you listen to others every day, right? But are you really listening?
Most of us think of listening as hearing what someone else is saying. But that’s just a small part of it. Listening also involves understanding, interpreting and responding to what’s being said.
It’s an active process that requires you to use your ears, eyes, mind and heart. And it’s not always easy. Here are some tips to help you become a better listener:
1. Pay attention
This may seem obvious, but it’s important to really focus on what the other person is saying. That means putting away any distractions, such as your phone, and making eye contact.
2. Don’t interrupt
Interrupting shows that you’re not really interested in what the other person has to say. It also makes it difficult to really listen to what they’re saying.
3. Show that you’re listening
Use body language and verbal cues to show that you’re engaged in the conversation. Nod your head, make eye contact and encourage the other person to continue with phrases like “yes” or “uh-huh.”
4. Don’t jump to conclusions
Try to suspend judgment and really listen to what the other person is saying. They may have a different perspective that you hadn’t considered.
5. Ask questions
Asking questions shows that you’re interested in the conversation and want to know more. It also gives you a chance to clarify anything you didn’t understand.
6. Repeat back what you heard
This is a good way to make sure you understood what was said and to let the other person know that you were listening.
7. Be open-minded
Try to be open to what the other person is saying, even if you don’t agree with it. You may learn something new or gain a different perspective.
8. Don’t get defensive
If you feel like you’re being attacked, it’s natural to want to defend yourself. But this will only make the situation worse. Instead, try to stay calm and really listen to what the other person is saying.
9. Be patient
Listening takes time and patience. Don’t rush the other person or try to finish their sentences for them.
Like anything else, listening is a skill that takes practice. The more you do it, the better you’ll become at it.