5 Ways to Become an Active Listener
Do you consider yourself a good listener?
In conversations do you absorb every spoken word, or do you find yourself drifting away, or planning what you have to say next? Perhaps you’re the person your friends turn to when they need a sounding board because you’re such a good listener?
Either way, these simple tips will help you fine-tune your listening skills and help you become a more mindful listener.
Sometimes our cluttered minds make it difficult to concentrate during conversations. We become lost in our thoughts and start to drift away. Nothing says I’m not listening like poor eye contact, or staring over someone’s shoulder while they’re talking. Our body language speaks volumes and something as simple as crossed arms can change the way the other person perceives your attention level. Be open, smile and give the gift of your full attention.
Forget your personal agenda
Listen without interrupting. If you haven’t practiced active listening before it’s natural to want to interrupt and give your two cents worth. It’s so important to give the speaker the space to talk, the room to communicate their whole message without being interrupted. Don’t feel like you have to offer a solution or advice, but feel free to validate throughout the conversation as necessary.
Listen without distractions. There’s nothing worse than speaking with someone when they are distracted by something outside the conversation. Removing distractions such as phones, iPads, clicking pens, phone calls or email notifications will ensure the speaker feels heard, listened to, important and reassures them that you’re giving them your full attention.
Summarise and clarify
Have you ever got to the end of a conversation only to realise that you completely misinterpreted the message? It’s a common problem with communication and while it’s inappropriate to constantly interrupt, there’s nothing wrong with repeating the main points to clarify what you’ve heard. This ensures that you have received the message as it was intended, clarifies the main points and makes sure you have a clear understanding of the context.
Try responding with ‘what I’m hearing you say is…’ and don’t be jaded if you didn’t completely comprehend the speakers message, it’s great that you were confident enough to clarify what they said to gain a better understanding.
Listen without judgement
If you ask people ‘what are the characteristics of a good listener?’ you’ll often hear that it’s someone who doesn’t make judgements or jump to conclusions during the conversation. As an active listener it’s important to practice empathy and communicate with an open mind. Never assume you know how the speaker is feeling or the next thing they are going to say.
Be honest and comfortable
People value honesty, and if you don’t have time to talk, or find yourself lacking concentration because of impending deadlines, illness or tiredness, telling the truth is better than coming across disinterested. Be honest, and if possible, schedule the conversation for a later time.
There’s an amazing moment within Forme’s Cultivating Calm Workshop, that is dedicated to the practice of active listening. Participants are encouraged to role-play a series of active listening exercises, and participants are always amazed at their reactions around their own listening skills.
Our brand new 2 hour Cultivating Calm Workshop launches in in January 2017.
Bring your friends, colleagues or partner along to learn how you can polish up on your active listening skills and dramatically impact your personal and professional relationships for the better.
Keep in the loop – Register your interest below.