…even a little bit.
Listen. Yep, it’s that simple. Master the art of listening, and master your life. Ok, maybe I’m stretching it a little, but I truly believe that most good listeners are well respected, liked, and successful in one way, shape or form.
My thoughts were confirmed when I read an article on the subject in the local paper called To Listen is to Respect. I found the given tips and techniques to be simple yet effective, so I thought I would share along with some of my own insight.
And just to be clear, I’m not an expert on good listening – quiet the opposite actually. While I love talking to people, hearing their thoughts, and engaging in respectful dialogue, I often find myself either interjecting my own opinion or zoning out (probably more than I should). And that is not respectful.
NOT respectful (but it happens sometimes)!
The article says that people need to monitor their airtime. Are you talking more than 50% of the time? If so, that needs to change ASAP, and here’s how…
Demonstrate genuine interest and empathy. When talking to people, show interest by asking questions and inviting others to share their thoughts, all while putting your own opinions aside. And I personally think that if you’re not engaged and can’t show genuine interest, excuse yourself from the conversation. That seems rude, but I really think that it’s better then pretending to listen.
Listen to learn. So here, you want to stay present. Try to understand what the person is saying both verbally and nonverbally. And instead of thinking about what you’re going to say next, understand what is actually being said because that’s where the learning happens.
Be comfortable with silence. Good conversation isn’t always about talking nonstop. Silence gives both parties a chance to regroup or think about what was already said. If anything, it can enhance the conversation. And if you’re one of those people who is uncomfortable with silence or has a need to always fill it up with words (guilty as charged), pause and select your words carefully because you’ll probably end up sharing more then intended. If you have to break the silence, at least make it a question.
Minimize other bad listening habits. (This one was written for me). Don’t text while someone is talking to you. Don’t look at the clock either. And don’t change the subject, especially if the other person started the conversation. But definitely make sure you are maintaining eye contact, nodding your head when appropriate, and using the right body language.
Good listening skills help build trust and earn respect, both necessary for any healthy relationship. And if you learn to be a supportive listener, you will find yourself surrounded by others who are able to do the same for you. Win win!
And as Sir Winston Churchill once said, “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”
Do you consider yourself to be a good listener? Which tip resonated with you? Have any of your own to share?