All through the day, we meet many people and hear them talk, but how much do we actually listen to them? Listening is much more than just using the ears to hear what the other person is saying.
Listening involves our ears, eyes, mind, undivided attention and even our heart. The ability to truly listen to someone is a skill that is very important.
Parents should be able to listen to their children; workplace listening skills are crucial for success at work; students must be able to listen to their teachers to fully comprehend the lecture.
In fact, in all fields of life we must be able to listen, and not just hear, in order to have better relationships, successful careers and fostering friendships.
Here are a few tips to listen better:
When someone talks to you, clear all matters from the mind so that you give the speaker your full and undivided attention.
When your daughter comes up to discuss a school project, this is definitely not the best time to check emails, Whatsapp messages or trends in the stock exchange market.
Try to maintain eye contact but not pin down a person with cold, hard stare. Concentrate on the words and do not let your attention wander.
Observe the speaker and discover things he is not saying while speaking. The speaker’s body language, eye movements, facial expressions, gestures, posture and expressions can tell you a lot of things that might not be getting conveyed via words.
If there is a lot of background noise or other distractions, move to a more suitable place. During a party or noisy family gathering, someone close to you wishes to talk about relationship issues, suggest that you move to a quieter place where you can talk without interruption or danger of being overheard.
Don’t interrupt while the person is speaking. If there is a pause, add your comment or question to keep the conversation going. Many people just cannot remain silent during a conversation and are more interested in giving out their own response or verdict than understanding the core issue.
To ensure that you are getting the drift, summarize the situation periodically with words like, “Let’s see if I got this right,” or “So what you are saying is…”
If you are listening to a complicated problem, long lecture or even discussing problems with family members, jot down main points for future reference.
Use gestures to show that you are listening intently to what the other person has to say. Nod your head, ask questions, smile or frown to show empathy.
While dealing with children it is best to allow them to get everything off their chest before showing any reaction or passing judgement. Words like “How can you be so stupid?” or “I can’t believe you are such a moron,” will effectively put an end to any honest tête-à-tête.
Listen with the intent to understand and not just a show of hearing.