In everyday communication with others, we should question our listening skills. Most people say they are good listeners while in a real sense they may not be. Effecting listening takes practice. It’s a skill that can be learnt.
I was thinking about this as I was walking along the beach. While walking on the beach I picked up a shell that reminded me of my childhood. You know one of those shells you pick up and listen to the sea inside. Have you ever done that? Listened to the noises from inside a shell.
Listening is not just hearing what is being said. It is acknowledging the message and understanding it while paying attention to the speaker’s body language. In fact, mastering the art of active listening takes practice and patience.
As you listen, look at both the verbal and non-verbal communication cues. Listening is a discipline that can be acquired by adhering to good listening habits.
I’ve been a shift worker in a variety of industries including working in call centres where active listening to tone and message were vital in order to clarify what was being said, ask the correct questions, and provide a solution.
6 Effective Listening Examples.
Are you a good listener? There are simple ways to know if you are a good listener.
- Do you smile, nod or maintain eye contact during a conversation?
- Do you ask questions when in doubt about the message?
- Does the message stick in your mind?
- Can you paraphrase the speaker’s message?
All these are simple ways to evaluate how much of a good listener you are.
Here are some tips on creating effective listening habits;
Stop talking and listen.
The biggest tip to active listening is turn-taking. Do not rush to speak your mind in the middle of another’s speech. No matter how burning your message is or is related to what is being said, wait until the end. You don’t want to miss an important segment of a speech to pass you by.
Focus on the speaker without thinking about what to say or preparing what to say in your mind. Listen actively.
Learn to say less than you think.
Listening skills should be used all the time regardless of our emotions. Often we do not listen to what is said during situations like a heated argument. In an argument, we all want to be heard and nobody wants to listen. At times we think more and say a lot which may end up making no sense. Filter your thoughts and say what is relevant at the time. Say less than you think.
The measure of listening is how well the message has been understood. You cannot respond correctly if you do not have the understanding. Seek understanding first before you are understood, this is key in communication. Listen with the intent to understand.
Distractions are not just external but also internal. Is what you are thinking relevant to the message being conveyed? Our minds may drift away and find ourselves lost deep in our thoughts that whatever we were listening to becomes background noise. Distractions can also be in the form of unintentional negative body language. The only way to avoid distraction is to pay attention and divert our focus from all things distractive.
Everybody has their own views. Do not let emotions cloud your judgement which can affect your listening ability. Emotions may get in the way of active listening. Govern and control your emotions and react based on understanding.
Understanding yourself and your emotions can be enhanced when you practice mindfulness.
Related post: Balancing life with mindfulness methods that work.
Practice reflective listening.
This is showing understanding through capturing and repeating keywords in a conversation. It is a sign of good listening habits and helps make communication effective.
You can become an active listener, by practising these effective listening skills.
- Stop talking and listen,
- Say less than you think,
- Seek to understand,
- Avoid distractions,
- Be open-minded
- Practice reflective listening.