7 Crucial Listening Habits To Improve Relationships
“I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.” Robert McCloskey
Listening shouldn't be confused with neither mere hearing nor perverse listening which is eavesdropping. The aim of listening is to understand what the other is saying. Humans have a deep need to be understood, and without this need being fulfilled we become frustrated and angry. This simple fact goes for all spheres of life and amongst all types of relationships. Active listening is good listening, and is so important that much study has gone into it. Practice these listening habits and you will surely improve all your relationships.
Are you a good listener?
- Maintain eye contact: Eye contact has a powerful way of building a connection between persons who are communicating. What the eyes focus on, typically suggests what the mind is thinking about, and intuitively humans know this.
- Check if you understand: Ten persons can be in a room listening to a speech, yet each of these persons may interpret a controversial statement in different ways. This is because all of us have a particular way of processing and interpreting information. Due to this, it is a good idea to summarize the points, issues or concerns to the person to check if you truly understand what he/she is seeking to convey. Asking relevant questions is another way as well.
- Give Feedback at an Appropriate time: People like to express their own point of view, and as a listener you understand this. Even if you have extensive knowledge about a particular matter, it is respectful to allow the other to share his/her point of view. Be careful not to force and interject your comments and/or objections while the other is speaking. A good time to speak is when you know that the other person has spoken in totality.
- Give Encouragement: People know when they are being listened to, and encouraging sounds and gestures are sure signs that indicate active listening. "Uh huh" "mmhm" and nods to show that you understand are all part of the mix.
- Be Empathetic: Understanding the other can be easier when you can relate to what is being said, as you may better understand the emotions that go along with it. At the same time, it is not a good idea to say things such as "I understand what you are going through" when you truly are not familiar with the particular experience. Empathy is a practice to trying your best to feel what it is to be in the other's shoes without necessarily knowing. Body language especially facial expressions is a major indication of whether or not you empathizing.
- Be Aware of Body Language: It is scientifically proven that most of our communication is non-verbal, and for this reason it makes sense to take note of the body language of the person you are listening to and yours as well. You may be surprised to find out habits that may be a turn-off to the speaker such as discouraging facial expressions, annoying fidgeting and tapping with the fingers to name a few.
- Be Attentive: This is the primary principle in good listening, as all others have no bearing unless this is fulfilled. If it is not possible to give your full or most of your attention to one speaking with you, it is better to avoid the hassle and put off the conversation till another time. It isn't fair to the person, and in effect he/she may feel ignored, disrespected and in certain cases unloved.
Imagine how much better life could be, if we nurture these simple yet powerful habits. Some great benefits include:
- increasing intimacy with your significant other.
- reducing quarrels.
- avoid unintended hurt and inconveniences.
- becoming closer to your children.
- making more sales
- making that business deal.
- preventing a suicide.
“The first duty of love is to listen.” Paul Tillich