We can all hear. But do we listen?
Listening is a great skill to possess.If you take the time to listen to what others have to say, you will learn more about the person and connect with them at a more personal level. Be careful not to judge or criticize – just simply listen.
Here are 4 techniques to help us listen more effectively:
1. Eye contact. Make eye contact with the speaker and avoid other distractions such as your smart-phone. Stay focussed on the person and listen to what they have to say.
2. Ask questions. Take interest in the lives of others. People love sharing stories and talking about themselves. Ask them open-ended questions such as “Could you tell me more?”, “What are your thoughts?”. These questions will give people an opportunity to elaborate on a given topic and will keep the conversation going.
3. Don’t interrupt. Let the conversation flow. If you interrupt someone, it denies the speaker the opportunity to fully express their opinions or feelings. To practice this skill, hold back the urge to speak immediately and pause for a few seconds before responding.
4. Empathetic listening. Listen with your ears, eyes and heart. Imagine how the speaker feels even if you don’t agree with everything that they say. Put yourself in their shoes to fully understand their point of view.
Practice these strategies regularly and you’re on your way to becoming a better listener.