It’s all too easy to get caught up in waiting until your turn to talk. It takes as much effort and concentration to listen carefully as it does to speak.
Your brain can only hold and process so much information at a time, but the more you listen, the richer your interactions will be. Taking the time to really listen and engage with others creates a connection and rapport that is difficult to achieve otherwise.
Listening also has an amazing power to dissolve barriers. When you listen, people respond in kind and feel understood. Active listening is about more than considering your response; it’s about tuning in to the speaker’s thoughts, emotions, and processes. You’ll discover what is truly important to them—their values, aspirations, and ways of seeing the world.
Listening is not always easy. With the advent of cell phones, texting, and email, more people are communicating at warp speed. Since faster isn’t always better, speaking and listening more slowly and carefully can make a huge difference.
When people feel listened to they are happier, more engaged, and willing to engage with others.
Listen + Think = Speak
Active listening doesn’t always mean agreeing with everything a person says, but when we truly listen and take time to consider their words, this goes a long way in building trust. Even when we disagree with someone, active listening can help us de-escalate conflict or build strong points for persuasion.
To sum up, active listening is all about empathy and understanding what someone is saying. It goes beyond just hearing words to taking in tone of voice, body language, and reactions to make sure we are truly understanding the message behind the words. Showing consideration for others through empathy helps us build trust and respect which is so important in any relationship.
Ready to try it out? Below are 8 tips you can use to practice active listening.
1. Suspend judgment and enter into the conversation with an open mind: You cannot listen actively if you are already assuming you know what the other person is going to say next.
2. Nod your head or use verbal responses like “uh huh” or “I see” to let them know you are paying attention. You can also ask questions if it is unclear what they are saying: “Can you say more about that?” or “Am I understanding correctly?”
3. Repeat back to them what you heard them say to make sure you understand the entire message. “So, what I’m hearing is…”
4. Paraphrase what you heard them say and ask if that is accurate: “So you feel like I don’t respect your opinion because I never listen to your point of view.”
5. Let them know you value what they are saying by sharing how it makes you feel: “It sounds like this is really important to you, and it makes me feel sad that we don’t communicate better.”
6. Don’t interrupt or finish their sentences: Let them know you understand and care about what they are saying before offering your two cents.
7. Offer a solution if possible: “So what can we do to make sure I respect your opinion?”
8. Thank them for bringing it to your attention: Everyone has a different way of communicating so it helps to validate their point of view.
Look ahead to us sending more information about active listening over the months to come.