5 Easy Ways to Develop Listening Skills.
Listening skills are a must. Why? Well, in this fast-paced world, people are caught up with their own thoughts and work. They rarely even have time to listen to another person and often just hear what one has to say, without understanding much about it. Listening is the art of effective communication. It requires you to hear what is being said carefully and understanding it in the manner and context in which it was said. People often listen to others only to reply to them or to show their interest in them without actually understanding them.
Having great listening skills will separate you from the herd and make you an approachable person. People want someone to understand them, their thoughts, their worries, their situation. Listening to them properly will not only let you show empathy towards them but also help you find ways to assist them in their difficulties.
Why should we develop listening skills?
Listening is an important skill to have. Listening is the act of actively hearing and understanding what is being said. We have been hearing a lot of people since we were born, but only when we understand them, we truly get what they mean to say. Only when we understand them, we feel how they feel and respond accordingly.
Here’s how you can be patient.
Active listening skills build relationships. By responding appropriately, you send a message to the speaker that you are a good listener. Effective communication prevents misunderstanding and gets the job done in an efficient way. In a team or a group, listening skills help them feel heard and respected. Research has shown that when people feel heard, they feel less frustrated, and their productivity increases. In this era, where people have no time to pause and listen to another, with listening skills you can grab their attention.
Here’s why you should think positive.
How to develop listening skills?
Listening skills are not something we are born with; it needs to be developed. It can take a good amount of time and a lot of practice to learn to listen.
Step 1: Face the speaker and maintain eye contact.
Talking to someone while they scan the room, study a computer screen, or gaze out the window is like trying to hit a moving target. How much of the person’s divided attention you are getting? Fifty per cent? Five per cent? If the person were your child you might demand, “Look at me when I’m talking to you,” but that’s not the sort of thing we say to a lover, friend or colleague.
In most Western cultures, eye contact is considered a basic ingredient of effective communication. When we talk, we look each other in the eye. That doesn’t mean that you can’t carry on a conversation from across the room, or from another room, but if the conversation continues for any length of time, you (or the other person) will get up and move. The desire for better communication pulls you together.
Step 2: Be attentive, but relaxed.
Now that you’ve made eye contact, relax. You don’t have to stare fixedly at the other person. You can look away now and then and carry on like a normal person. The important thing is to be attentive. The dictionary says that to “attend” another person means to:
- be present
- give attention
- apply or direct yourself
- pay attention
- remain ready to serve
Mentally screen out distractions, like background activity and noise. In addition, try not to focus on the speaker’s accent or speech mannerisms to the point where they become distractions. Finally, don’t be distracted by your thoughts, feelings, or biases.
Step 3: Keep an open mind.
Listen without judging the other person or mentally criticizing the things she tells you. If what she says alarms you, go ahead and feel alarmed, but don’t say to yourself, “Well, that was a stupid move.” As soon as you indulge in judgmental bemusements, you’ve compromised your effectiveness as a listener.
Listen without jumping to conclusions. Remember that the speaker is using language to represent the thoughts and feelings inside her brain. You don’t know what those thoughts and feelings are and the only way you’ll find out is by listening.
Step 4: Listen to the words and try to picture what the speaker is saying.
Allow your mind to create a mental model of the information being communicated. Whether a literal picture or an arrangement of abstract concepts, your brain will do the necessary work if you stay focused, with senses fully alert. When listening for long stretches, concentrate on, and remember, keywords and phrases.
When it’s your turn to listen, don’t spend the time planning what to say next. You can’t rehearse and listen at the same time. Think only about what the other person is saying.
Step 5: Don’t interrupt and don’t impose your “solutions.”
Children used to be taught that it’s rude to interrupt. I’m not sure that message is getting across anymore. Certainly, the opposite is being modelled on the majority of talk shows and reality programs, where loud, aggressive, in-your-face behaviour is condoned, if not encouraged.
Interrupting sends a variety of messages. It says:
- “I’m more important than you are.”
- “What I have to say is more interesting, accurate or relevant.”
- “I don’t care what you think.”
- “I don’t have time for your opinion.”
- “This isn’t a conversation, it’s a contest, and I’m going to win.”
We all think and speak at different rates. If you are a quick thinker and an agile talker, the burden is on you to relax your pace for the slower, more thoughtful communicator—or for the guy who has trouble expressing himself.
When listening to someone talk about a problem, refrain from suggesting solutions. Most of us don’t want your advice anyway. If we do, we’ll ask for it. Most of us prefer to figure out our solutions. We need you to listen and help us do that. Somewhere way down the line, if you are bursting with a brilliant solution, at least get the speaker’s permission. Ask, “Would you like to hear my ideas?”
If you think that you can add any point which will help to learn listening skills then do mention them in the comments.
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