Are you a good listener? Do you find yourself nodding your head up and down in recognition while someone is talking only to not have a clue what they said when the conversation is over? How about when your boss is trying to explain something to you – do you have to repeatedly ask them to explain the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of what they said over and over again?
Being a better listener will benefit you greatly in life. It will cause you to gain respect from your peers, friends, and family. It will allow you to understand what someone is really going through in their life or situation. It will allow you to create solutions to problems that someone gives you in a quick and timely manner – because you will understand exactly what the problems are!
Being a good listener is essential to everyday life – yet so many of us are really bad listeners. In our business and personal relationships we miss the point of what is being said. And our lack of attention causes problems and issues that are unnecessary in the relationships.
So do you want to really listen when your spouse, friend, co-worker, or boss is talking? Yes? Then here are some tips to help you listen, and more importantly understand!
Pay Attention While Listening
The first thing you need to do is pay attention to the person talking. This requires concentration on your part! You can’t think about what you did yesterday or what you are going to do tomorrow or what you could be doing right now – you have to actually focus in on what the person is saying and be interested in it.
If you are not interested in what the person is saying you will drift off without a doubt. My husband is an accountant and I can attest to how hard it is to listen to something that bores the heck out of you.
But listening makes other people feel validated and it’s important to listen to others whether you find the topic interesting or not.
One way to do this is to use imagery. While they are talking and you are listening, try picturing what they are saying. This will allow you to see their words as a live, living thing and cause you to really follow along on a larger level. If you are just listening to their words then your mind may wander, especially if they are a slow talker (again my husband), and you may stop listening long before they are done.
Another way to really pay attention is to interact while the other person is talking. You can ask questions about what the person is saying to you or you can make statements while they are talking.
Don’t interrupt them constantly, but if you feel yourself starting to drift away ask relevant questions or make relevant comments that help you stay active in the conversation and really pay attention to what they are saying.
Try to Understand Why The Person is Talking to You
People generally won’t talk to you just for the hell of it. They usually have a reason for sharing what they are sharing with you.
- It may be because they want to brag about what they know.
- It may be because they want you to understand their beliefs or point of view.
- It may be because they want you to do something that you do not understand how to do yet.
- It may just be because they are bored.
- It may be because they need help.
If you understand why they are talking to you then you will become connected to them on an emotional level as well as just a ‘listening’ level. Emotions will help you stay involved in the conversation and really understand where their words are coming from.
Take The Focus Off of Yourself
This is a huge way to start listening better! When we are listening to someone we tend to start thinking about ourselves. It’s human nature to do this.
For instance, if our spouse is talking about how bad of a day they had we may start to think about our crappy day that we had as well! This can cause us to interrupt our spouse and begin talking about ourselves.
That is what a bad listener does.
If you want to become a better listener then you will want to take the focus off of yourself and put it on the person who is talking. Instead of thinking about YOUR day and waiting until the second YOU can start talking about your day, allow the person talking to you to really have the limelight. You will get a chance later on to share your day…right now, focus on someone else.
In the beginning this may be hard to do, but with enough practice you will be able to nudge yourself out of your own head and really listen to someone else. You will find that they will return the favor to you as well later on – and that’s worth improving your listening skills.
Everyone should be striving to listen better. It will help you in all areas of your life. Remember that by paying attention to the talker, understanding where they are coming from, and letting them have the limelight, you will increase your ability to really listen and understand what they are saying.