Effective Communication: Tips on Being a Good Listener
Do you ever walk away from a conversation feeling as though the conversation didn't go well? Are you left with a nagging feeling that you said too much or you didn't say enough?
I have realized that I may be talking too much in an effort to keep the conversation going. For example, if someone is talking to me about an issue that they are facing then I offer up my own story. In my mind I am just relating to the issues that they are facing. However, I recently read that to be a good listener, you are doing just that, listening! More specifically, when you keep chiming in with your own stories you can make the speaker feel as though what they are saying doesn't matter. That is never my intention! Since then I am a lot more mindful of my conversations when it is obvious that I just need to listen and be there for that person.
Why Should I Be a Good Listener?
Mastering the art of being a good listener can benefit you in many areas of your life!
- Career- Being a good listener in your career, helps you make informed decisions. You also show respect by listening, whether it is your supervisor or those that you supervise.
- Friendships- You are showing your friends that you care about them and are interested in their lives.
- Parenting- Most importantly, you are showing your children that what they have to say is important and you are modeling to them what it looks like to be a good listener!
Simple tips to being a good listener:
- First and foremost, REMOVE ALL DISTRACTIONS. Here, I mainly mean cell phones. This day and age, most people are CONSTANTLY on their phones. How would/do you feel if someone is playing on their phone while you are trying to have a conversation with them? Are they making you feel important or like they couldn't care less what you are saying?
- Make eye contact! Having eye contact shows the speaker that you are interested in what they are saying and they have your full attention. The speaker isn't left wondering if you are listening to them or thinking about your grocery list.
- Ask questions. These questions should be directly related to what the speaker is talking about. Ask questions to clarify what the speaker may be talking about. Ask questions to show empathy, "How does that make you feel?" Ask questions to gain more details.
- Stop talking. Ah, the area where I am most guilty. If you are constantly thinking about your response during the conversation, how much are you actually listening to? Resist the temptation to share your own story and experience!!
- Be patient. When conversations are difficult it sometimes takes the speaker awhile to share what is on their mind. You do not want to give the impression that you are trying to get through the conversation as fast as possible. Let there be silence. The speaker could be taking time to think about what they need/want to say next. By being patient you are showing the speaker that you are there to listen, no matter what!
Will you join me in becoming a better listener? You never know what other people are dealing with or maybe just how much they need to talk to someone....anyone. You may be their saving grace that day. By being a good listener ourselves we are showing others what it looks like to listen attentively. Maybe this person, if they don't already, will carry this skill into their next conversation.
Good listeners are very easy to spot during a conversation and many people enjoy talking to them!! I've met a few excellent listeners in my life and these friends had a great way of making me feel special!