How To Be A Better Listener

There are two types of listening, Active and Passive. The main difference between the two is that when we actively listen, we are fully concentrated and engaged in what the other person is saying. Whereas, when we listen passively, we are half listening and half contemplating our reply, what we will be having for dinner, or thinking about all the other things we need to get done today.

Now, you may think that you’re able to fool people into thinking you are actively listening with a quick nod or gesture, but the truth is most of the time it is fairly easy to tell if your conversation partner is fully engaged or not. When we listen actively, we come off as more compassionate and empathetic to others. When we listen passively, we can come off as uncaring and rude. The good news is that listening is a skill and can be developed like any other talent. So, if you want to be a better listener, follow the steps below.

To become a better listener, try using the following steps in your next conversation.

Step 1: Do not speak.

Avoid saying anything while your conversation partner is talking. As hard as it may be, hold your thought until it’s your turn to speak. Be sure to pay attention and to look directly at the speaker. Interrupting someone is the quickest way to show that you do not care about what they are saying.

Step 2: Don’t think about what you’re going to say.

Many people tend to do this while talking to someone. Rather than focusing on your reply, focus solely on absorbing the entire message of your conversation partner.

Step 3: Show them you hear what they are saying.

You can acknowledge what the other person is saying with a quick head nod or smile.

Step 4: Pay attention to what their body is saying.

Notice the body language of your conversation partner. What are they saying through their movements and behavior?

Step 5: Paraphrase.

When your conversation partner stops talking, reflect on what you think you have heard. Then try to paraphrase what they said by repeating it back to them. This technique helps to ensure if there is a clear understanding between the two of you.

Step 6: Empathize.

Try to recognize your conversation partners feelings. For example, you can say something like, “That must have made you angry,” or “You seem to be upset.” Then wait.

Want to be a better communicator? Try working with a therapist.