Listening is an incredibly valuable skill. Yet, it’s often an underestimated one. Listening skills can help you learn and understand the people you communicate with, as well as build productive relationships and make better decisions in life.
Here are some tips on how to master the art of listening:
1. Focus on What Is Being Said
When someone speaks to you, focus your attention both on the words being said and the feelings behind them. When discussing with people from different cultures, you have to pay extra attention to body language and facial expressions to really grasp the full message. Paying full attention to a conversation shows respect for the speaker and ensures that you’re truly absorbing what they’re saying. This requires discipline; resist the urge to think about anything else while someone is talking.
2. Eliminate Distractions
Wherever you are and whatever conversations you happen to be in, eliminate distractions like noise or staring at screens. Make sure that when someone is speaking to you, they have your undivided attention; this will show them they are respected and valued. People are not likely to express themselves honestly if they feel that their opinion went unnoticed or unheard.
3. Ask Questions
Asking questions encourages speakers to further explain their thoughts or positions, demonstrating your interest in learning more about the topic or person at hand. Also, by asking questions or paraphrasing of what is being said, you can ensure that you have understood everything correctly.
Lastly, when we ask questions, we’re challenged to think outside our own boxes. This helps us become better listeners as we consider different perspectives than our own, and to build stronger personal relationships.
4. Listen with an Open Mind
Sometimes when we talk with people from all over the world, our conversation partner may have different ideas or beliefs than we do. It’s important that we don’t reject those ideas out of hand but instead stay open-minded and listen before offering a response. That way, we can get all sides of the story before forming any (wrong) conclusions on our part.
Be Patient. Being silent does not mean that some is not listening. Sometimes people need time and silence after expressing their thoughts before continuing the conversation — let them have it!
When someone takes extra time to respond, don't look down upon them but rather give them space so that they can comfortably express themselves without being rushed or distracted by an impatient audience member.
Listening matters. This is especially true if you happen to be the one fluent or native in the language you are sharing your thoughts in. Pauses in conversation give you time to process what is being said, verbally and non-verbally.
5. Demonstrate That You Are Hearing Them Out
If a person feels like their opinion isn’t being heard, then chances are that person may shut down or choose not to continue engaging in dialogue – demonstrate your understanding through small nods, attentive “mmhms," eye contact, etc..
Showing that you truly understand what your conversation partner has shared makes them feel appreciated and encourages active listening from both parties involved in the exchange of information.
In conclusion, listening is an art that requires focus and attention to master. But, with practice and dedication over time, following the tips outlined in this article can help you hone your skills and become a better listener. It's all about being present, focused and open-minded. And, don't forget to practice patience and ask meaningful questions when needed. With these tips, you can open up the lines of communication in any conversation and have meaningful exchanges with the people around you.
Do you want to master the art of listening? Contact us to customize you a workshop that focuses on developing your listening skills!