5 Steps To Becoming A Better Listener:
1. Look the part
Think about it – you already know what it looks like when someone is listening – so do just that:
- Make eye contact
- Have open body language (inviting posture, leaning forward, no crossed arms)
- No distractions (phone and laptop put away)
- Take notes
- Be encouraging (nod, say “yes” and “uh huh”)
- Stay relaxed (Don’t tense up or look crazy. Breathe. It’s ok to look away occasionally.)
Your body language MATTERS to the speaker – it will help her feel comfortable and open up more. As you practice good body language more often, it’ll become second nature.
2. Listen Actively
Active listening involves listening with ALL your senses. That means you need to pay attention to both the verbal and nonverbal cues. Ask yourself:
- What are they saying?
- What are they not saying?
- How are they feeling? Try to feel what they’re feeling.
Then, make sure you got the message by following up with “So what I hear you say is…” or “What I think you’re asking is…” or “It sounds like you’d like me to…” and then asking if you have it right. It doesn’t matter if you agree with her point of view. All that matters is that you understood her and that she feels heard.
Now’s the time to ask clarifying questions (during an appropriate pause), only to the extent that they will help you understand. Paraphrase what they said, and empathize with their emotions by saying things like “I can understand why that would be frustrating.”
When you check your assumptions at the door and listen without judgment, you can put yourself in the speaker’s position and truly understand what it feels like to be her. Empathy is the key to great communication (and it’s one of our superpowers as women!)
While you’re listening, pay close attention to the emotions the speaker is expressing. If you can convey those same feelings and facial expressions as you listen and respond, you will truly understand the message. The speaker will feel at ease with you, and you’ll build a stronger relationship.
4. Don’t Interrupt
Interrupting is rude – we learned that when we were like four. I speak and think quickly, and yes, I get annoyed when a conversation isn’t moving at my pace. But interrupting is rarely a good solution. Most people want to come to their own conclusions, so before forcing your ideas down someone’s throat, first ask her, “Would you like to hear my thoughts?”
When you interrupt, you send messages like:
- “I’m smarter/better/more important than you are.”
- “I’m not interested in what you have to say.” / “You’re not interesting.”
- “I don’t care about your opinion / what you have to say.”
- “This is a competition, and I’m gonna win.”
When you listen, you send messages like:
- “I value you.”
- “I want to learn from you.”
- “I respect you and your time.”
- “You can trust me.”
What message do you want to send?
5. Be Curious
In order to understand everything – you need to come from a place of curiosity.
Too often while we’re “listening,” we’re just brewing up our genius reply. Don’t listen to reply; listen to understand.
Keep an open mind and don’t jump to conclusions. Suspend judgment. You’re not trying to agree, you’re trying to UNDERSTAND! And the only way you’ll understand is by staying curious, deeply listening, and asking the right questions.
Listening is learning
Our personal experiences, thoughts, and emotions, are a filter through which we hear everything. Remember that when you listen, you’re seeking to understand. You’re learning from the other person.
Just like in school, one of the best ways to cement your learning is to summarize what you’ve heard. So this week I want you to experiment with summarizing what you heard at the end of each conversation. This will give the speaker an opportunity to clarify any misunderstandings that may have occurred as you listened through your personal lens.
What tips do you have for becoming a better listener? DISH!!!