By Dei Vallerie
Effective listening can be learned and mastered. Although it can seem boring, unpleasant or a waste of time it doesn’t mean it is impossible. You just have to be determined and make a decision that you want to be able to listen effectively. Below are 7 things that will help you achieve this if followed consistently.
- Be Focused: Focus is a very important aspect of effective listening. The biggest mistake most people make is while they are supposed to be listening, they are busy thinking of what they want to say next or how whatever they are listening to is going to benefit them at the time when they are supposed to be paying attention to what is being said. During this process, they fail to hear what is being communicated to them. The words are being heard clearly but the meaning is lost. This is to say that we are not only distracted by things around us but can also be distracted by our thoughts.
- Positive body language: having a positive body language has the ability to attract people to you. Using an enthusiastic tone, uncrossing your arms, maintaining eye contact, and leaning towards the speaker are all forms of positive body language employed by great listeners. Positive body language can make all the difference in a conversation.
- Do not pay attention to your phone: Avoid taking quick glances at your phone during a conversation it turns people off. While you are involved in a conversation, focus all your energy on the conversation and you will discover that conversations are much more enjoyable and impactful when you pay attention.
- Do not hijack the conversation: if you do not have a relevant question to ask (a question that will make you understand the conversation better) it is better to keep quiet and listen. When you start asking irrelevant questions or making unnecessary contributions to the conversation it is assumed that you are hijacking the conversation and while you do this you are shutting the other person down.
- Ask good questions: Asking good questions or clarification questions shows the speaker that you are listening and that you are interested in what they are saying. By doing this you encourage the speaker and you will be surprised at the kind of respect you will command from both the speaker and other listeners like yourself by simply asking a good question. Good questions are questions that seek more information/ insight to the topic of discussion. Examples are “Why did he say that?” and “What happened next?”. The key is to make certain that your questions really do add to your understanding of the speaker’s words, rather than deflecting the conversation to a different topic.
- Be Open minded: Truth be told you cannot gain anything from a conversation when you have already built up a wall in your mind as regards the subject or the speaker. Being open-minded makes you approachable and makes it easier for you to benefit because no one wants to have a conversation with someone who has already formed an opinion and is not willing to listen. In order to stop passing judgment on people, you need to see the world through other people’s eyes.
- Practice reflective listening: reflective listening is the act of paraphrasing the meaning of what’s being said in order to make certain you’ve interpreted the speaker’s words correctly. By doing this, you give the speaker the opportunity to clarify what she meant to say. When you practice reflective listening, don’t simply repeat the speaker’s words to her. Use your own words to show that you’ve absorbed the information.