In today’s world of technology and increased remote work, it’s harder than ever to make sure we’re hearing what is being said. Active listening fosters communication, resolves issues, ensures comprehension, settles disputes, and increases accuracy.
At work, the practice of active listening results in fewer mistakes and less time wasted. It aids in the development of resourceful, independent children who can handle their own difficulties at home. Building friendships, handling financial situations, and maintaining marriages all get a boost from heightened listening skills.
To learn what you can do to increase your active listening skills, continue reading.
Eye Contact Is Essential
Search for active listening skills and eye contact is typically near the top of the list. It makes sense. Face-to-face communication should include eye contact. However, making too much eye contact might be intimidating, so consider your surroundings and who you’re talking to. The last thing you want to do is make the person uncomfortable.
To demonstrate that you are paying attention, try breaking eye contact every five seconds or so. You may also alternate between looking at their eyes for five seconds at a time to demonstrate that you are listening. Gazing up or to the side as you look away is preferable to looking downward, which could imply that you wish to end the conversation.
Make sure your posture is open; avoid crossing your knees or your arms, which might make you appear “closed” or defensive. While seated, leaning slightly forward or sideways, tilting your head slightly, or resting your head on your palm might all be signs that you are paying attention.
Listen Fully – Without Interrupting
Being interrupted annoys the other person because it conveys that you value your opinion above theirs or that you don’t have time to listen to what they have to say. Force yourself to slow down if you naturally speak or think more quickly so that the other person can speak.
Remember, you don’t have to speak up if there is a gap or little period of silence. Allowing the other person to talk will also make it simpler for you to comprehend what they are trying to say. When the conversation diverts from what they were attempting to educate you about, even interruptions in response to what they just said can be annoying.
It’s also important to fully listen to what they’re saying while not forming your own opinions or comebacks. If you find yourself formulating how you want to respond to them instead of listening, refocus.
Paraphrase and Summarize
This practice of reiterating what has been said to demonstrate understanding is referred to as reflecting. This may at first seem odd, but it actually demonstrates your attentiveness and gives the speaker the opportunity to correct you if necessary.
It’s important to do this in a genuine way. If it comes off challenging or condescending, the conversation will come to an abrupt end, most likely with hurt feelings.
These are just three steps you can take to increase your active listening skills. As you practice your skills, remember to be present. Put the phone down, stop scrolling social media, and devote the necessary time to the person talking to you. In no time at all, you will be an active listening rockstar.