Communication isn’t just about talking with others and sharing stories, ideas, goals, and desires. Effective communication often involves listening skills that develop your ability to really absorb what others say, and listen with an open mind.
1.Have inviting body language. Inviting body language means positioning yourself in a way that makes it inviting and easier for people to come talk to you. This means facing the person who is speaking to you and standing with an open posture with your arms at your side for example, rather than crossing your arms in front of your chest. Crossing your arms in from of your chest might imply that you don’t want to have a conversation. Or, if you are in the middle of a conversation and you keep yawning and looking around as someone is talking to you, they might assume that you aren’t listening and don’t care what they have to say.
- Raising your eyebrows every once in while.
- Moving slightly closer toward the person speaking to you.
- Smiling and laughing when it is appropriate.
- Tilting your head when hearing new or interesting information.
- Nodding your head if you agree or understand what someone is saying.
2.Keep eye contact. In Western culture, making eye contact is a non-verbal way of letting someone know that they have your attention and respect — two important factors involved in having a productive conversation. Making and keeping eye contact lets the other person know that they can proceed with what they want to say, knowing that you are ready to listen.
3.Listen without distraction. An important part of listening is being able to zone out background noise, thoughts, and conversations so you focus on the conversation in front of you. Being distracted by other things takes your attention away from the speaker and lessen your ability to fully listen.
- Turning off communication devices like cell phones is a polite and easy way to get rid of further distractions.
4.Take note of the speaker’s body language. Someone’s body language can communicate a lot more than the actual words they are saying. For example, if your partner keeps looking down at the floor, that might be an indication that they are shy, embarrassed, or sad.
Since words only convey a fraction of the message, “listening” to body language cues can help you further understand what the speaker is trying to communicate besides what their words convey.
5.Listen with the intent to learn. Some people focus on how they are going to reply when someone is talking to them, rather than absorbing and understanding what their partner is trying to communicate. That isn’t a habit of someone who is a good listener. Instead of thinking of your response, try to fully absorb what your partner is trying to say to you, and view every conversation you have as a learning opportunity.
- You might not be knowledgeable or fascinated with every topic of discussion, but listening with the intent to learn offers other points of view different from your own, and a chance for you to grow as a listener.
6.Avoid trying to offer an immediate solution. Sometimes, when people explain a problem they are experiencing, it might feel instinctual to offer a solution to their problem. Instead, just listen what they have to say. Most people ask for advice when they want it. Also, someone might simply be trying to talk through a problem to figure out how to solve it themselves, rather than asking you to figure out the answer for them.
- If someone seems to be really struggling to figure out what to do, and you have a suggestion that you think might genuinely help them, you should at least get the speaker’s permission and ask something like, “I might have an idea about how you can handle that. Do you want to hear it?”
7.Remember to use an active-listening attitude. Using an active-listening attitude can help reinforce positive listening practices and encourage respectful listening tendencies. Exercising an active-listening attitude means:
- Acknowledging that listening is just as important speaking in a conversation. Hearing what somebody has to say to is is equally important as voicing your opinion to them.
- Being aware that listening is necessary for productive exchanges of information. Those who remember to prioritize listening create less confusion in a conversation, cause fewer misunderstandings, and misspeak less frequently.
- Understanding that listening to others is not only necessary, but all around beneficial for the betterment of the conversation. Always try to absorb some piece of new information when you encounter and interact with new people.
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