7 Tips to Improve Your Listening Skills
Have you ever had a conversation where you walked away feeling energized and excited? The person you chatted with probably employed some very simple, yet valuable methods to make you feel heard and keep the conversation relevant. On the flip side, maybe you walked outside muttering to yourself because you were interrupted, given unwanted advice, and basically steamrolled. Ouch!
Listening well doesn't happen by accident, it's a skill that can be developed and improved upon. Up your conversational game and have better interactions with 7 key tips for active listening.
Face the Speaker-this means you stop everything else you are doing and give them your full attention. Try not to cross your arms or legs to avoid a defensive message via body language.
Eye Contact- you regularly look at them and only occasionally look away. They can tell if you start to go over your grocery list by the way your eyes glaze over. Don't do that!
Do Not Interrupt- when you are so busy trying to get a word in edgewise, you're missing the point. Just take a breath, exhale, now let them speak and your turn will come. You will retain more of their message when you listen this way.
Give Simple Feedback-let them know you hear what they are saying with simple comments of "ok, I get it", "I understand', "that must have been so ___" and so on. You can restate some of their statements back to them to acknowledge their feelings. This step matters.
Do Not Offer Advice Unless They Ask- Nine times out of ten, the person speaking just needs to express their emotions. When you give unsolicited advice or solutions, you're implying that they need to be saved and cannot solve the situation by themself.
Ask Questions- use open-ended questions that can increase your understanding of the person's message. Avoid questions that yield a "yes" or "no" response.
Be Empathetic and Supportive- phrases like "Wow, that sounds like it was intense", or "How did that make you feel?" Demonstrate that you are invested in the conversation.
Remember that conversation is an art form, much like a game of basketball; it has to keep moving at all times and going back and forth among the players. Don't be a ball hog.
Try these out to see immediate improvements in your relationships with people of all ages!