How to listen effectively?

The easiest way to improve listening, is to pay attention to the speaker, ignore distractions, and genuinely try to listen.

Speaking and listening are the most basic forms of communication. However, while many of us are skilled at speaking, and at times speaking too much, there are times when listening proves to harder than expected.

Listening is the most courteous thing you can do, especially in a conversation. Listening and interacting at the proper moments gives the conversation depth and meaning. Listening also helps build relationships, solve problems, ensure understanding, resolve conflicts, and improve accuracy. Still, despite know that, there are times when ignoring the distraction and actually listening to a person seems to be too hard. There are certain tricks that if employed can make listening easier, or at least less difficult.

  • The simplest and the most courteous thing you can do to improve listening is to face the speaker and make eye contact. The eye contact does not have to be continuous, that just appears to be creepy. You can look away but be sure to return to hold the eye contact. Don’t start to scan the room or check your phone.
  • Relax, forget about everything else and pay attention to the speaker. Don’t focus on distractions but rather genuinely try to listen to the speaker.
  • Be patient. It is easy to get bored and let your attention wander, but resist the temptation. The person speaking deserves your attention.
  • Keep an open mind. Don’t judge. Actually try to listen and understand what the person is trying to say and their point of view. Don’t just dismiss them and their ideas.
  • It might be easier to try to picture what the person is talking about. Something it is easier to drown out what the other person is talking, especially when it seems like the person is just droning on and on. So try to make it into a small movie, some people might find it easier to understand and digest the information visually, rather than in audio form.
  • Try to see the big picture. Don’t get stuck on the words, try to understand the idea that the person is trying to communicate, rather than just the words they are saying.
  • Don’t interrupt; interrupting breaks the flow of conversation, rather wait for the person to pause or finish before interjecting your thought or response into the conversation. This ensures that everyone gets their turn.
  • Also note the non-verbal cues, i.e. what the person is not saying. Note their body language and try to read between the lines. The person may be trying to tell you something without directly stating, probably because they might be shy about the topic, or may be trying to spare someone’s feelings.

Image Courtesy: marinapearson.com

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