The importance of listening as part of coherent communication skills set is often underestimated. If you are interested in improving your communication skills, you might be surprised to find out that the very first step in the process might well be learning how to listen.
Once you become a great listener, everything in your life changes in a very positive way. People will admire your communications skills and you will be much more successful in the way you communicate your ideas when you learn to listen properly.
Listen more thank you talk
Strive to understand
Many people can't wait to take their turn in a conversation. Be patient, ensure the other person has enough time o express their thoughts, feelings, and emotions. In a conversation, nothing is worse than being interrupted in the middle of expressing your ideas.
Concentrate on the speaker. Having a conversation with a person who is constantly distracted and doesn't pay attention feels really frustrating and disrespectful. Be present, be at the moment, and pay attention. Relax and put all other thoughts away - focus on what's being communicated.
Don't multitask when listening. Don't get distracted by SMS messages, calls, or any other interruptions. If an external distraction is really critical, which is not often the case, apologize and promise to return to this conversation after the urgent matter is addressed.
Read emotions & body language
Body language, voice, and facial expressions all need to be taken into account when listening to someone speaking. By doing so, you give put yourself in a much better position to make the correct judgement and respond appropriately. Reading and understanding people's emotions during a conversation makes a lot of difference and puts you in much better position by giving important pieces of information you can't gather from words.
Don't just listen - think! When a person you are talking too says something, really think through it. Pause, think, ask, and re-phrase what the other person just said to verify your understanding is correct. Truly care about what the other person has to say, but remember to be natural and genuinely interested.
Concentrate on the message, not the delivery
Don't get concerned with the way the speaker delivers the message - everyone has a different style of communicating. Some speaking habits might be annoying. For example, a person who is worried about something badly, can be really loud, not constructive, and disrespectful. Don't take it personally and don't get annoyed: focus on the message itself, not the way it is being delivered.
Support the speaker
Constantly give feedback by nodding and using gestures to encourage the speaker to share their thoughts and make them more comfortable and confident. The matter can be so important to them that your support and positive body language will make all the difference. Help the other person to be more relaxed to feel at ease and to get the most out of the conversation.
Learn from everyone you meet
When you talk you are only repeating what you know; but if you listen, you may learn something new
Develop an open mind and decide to learn from everyone you meet to become a better person. Don't judge a book by the cover. Never approach people with superiority in mind when having a conversation. A very successful CEO can learn from someone who has much less fortune. People have ideas, insights, and experiences which you can learn from regardless of where they are compared to you. Open your horizons and approach every conversation with the goal to learn something new. As Dalai Lama said: "When you talk you are only repeating what you know; but if you listen, you may learn something new".
Practice active listening
Make a conscious effort to hear and understand the person actively:
- Make eye contact
- Put your own thoughts on hold
- Nod, smile, support with sounds
- Provide feedback - paraphrase, ask questions, clarify
- Remember main thoughts
To summarize, mastering listening skills is very important in getting ahead in your career, improving and nurturing family relationships, and progressing with your personal development journey. When you learn to listen actively with the intent to understand and support the other person your communications skills sky-rocket and you get incredible results in everything you touch.