Knowing how to listen is just as important, if not more so, as knowing how to speak. Listening is an essential communication skill that all good leaders need to master. Employees, customers, clients, and partners all want to have their voices heard. How can you master your listening skills? Here are 5 simple and effective ways to become a great listener:
1. Use positive body language. Body language is an important, yet overlooked, aspect of communication. That’s part of the reason why so much meaning is lost through texting and messaging. Your body language says a lot about you. Start by facing the other person directly and making eye contact. Use smiles, nods, and other friendly gestures. Avoid slouching, frowning, or folding your arms.
2. Distance yourself from distractions. Talk somewhere where you will not get interrupted or sidetracked. Find a place without too much background noise so that you can give the other person your full and undivided attention. Get away from other conversations, televisions, music, or any other distracting sounds. You want to pay as much attention as possible to the other person.
3. Keep an open mind. Your prejudices and biases will impair your ability to listen and perceive what the other person is saying. Try putting yourself in their shoes and seeing things from their perspective. The two most important elements of a listener’s mind are empathy and curiosity. By relating to their feelings and wanting to hear what they say, you will become a much better listener.
4. Pay attention to key points. It is very easy for someone’s mind to completely wander away while someone else is talking. Pretend that you are going to be quizzed on what the other person is saying and take mental notes of the most important things they say. You can take physical notes too if need be.
5. Don’t interrupt. Not only is this very rude, it also shows that you do not appreciate what the other person is saying. Wait until a natural break in the conversation before asking questions or giving a response. If you do accidentally interrupt, apologize and let the other person finish. They might usher you to say what you wanted to say. That’s fine, but make sure to remind them to complete their previous thought.
Everyone loves being listened to. Being a great listener will help you in every aspect of your life – friendships, dating, romance, business, marketing, and so forth. It’s a basic communication skill that far too many people overlook. Master your listening skills by practicing a little bit each day.