“To listen well, is as powerful a means of influence as to talk well, and it is as essential to all true conversation.” ~ Chinese Proverb
Listening is the most important part of a true connection in conversation. When we listen, we gain knowledge and understanding about people and circumstances. Everyone wants to feel heard, but most times people prefer to talk rather than listen.
Active listening requires empathy, affirmation and the ability to process and respond without taking over a conversation. When you listen to the world you will know more, build trust and increase your popularity with friends.
Slave To The Cell Phone. How many times have you put a person on hold so that you could answer your cell phone or text a message during a conversation? Not only is this blatantly rude, but you have officially disconnected from the speaker. This behavior makes the speaker feel unimportant and shows you are not committed to the moment. It is disheartening to a speaker to feel like a conversation on the cell phone is more important than a face to face moment. Turn off your cell phone or put it on vibrate answering only in case of an emergency.
80/20. Are you speaking 80% of the time or listening 80% of the time? A good listener will speak 20% of the time and listen 80% of the time. When listening, parrot back what you have heard to show you are paying attention and ask open ended questions so that the speaker will go into further detail about the topic. This kind of affirmation makes people feel heard and you will feel like a hero.
Bad Body Language. If you are visually distracted and darting your eyes around the room, the listener is likely to feel unsupported and will feel your attention is somewhere else. A good listener stands tall or sits up straight, leans into the speaker and makes eye contact. Focusing your eyes on the speaker makes him feel like the center of the universe and validates the conversation.
Me, Let’s Talk About Me. Don’t be a ball hog in a conversation by taking over with idol chatter about yourself. Sometimes in an effort to show you understand what is being said you may make a connection and inadvertently change the topic or divert attention to yourself. If you feel the need to express a connection with a personal experience, keep it short and simple and allow the speaker to continue leading the conversation until it is your turn.
Overly Critical and Judgmental. If you interrupt the person in the first sentence of the a conversation to pass judgment you have immediately lost the ability to establish a rapport. Looking for errors, being overly critical, and jumping to conclusions by passing judgment are quick ways to disengage from the speaker and leave you solo in the conversation.
Actively listening is a bonus attribute in every relationship. It requires an investment of time and effort to connect with the speaker by being present in the moment and lending your ears completely. This important skill will build rapport, enrich work environments, and ease tension in personal relationships. Give your eyes, ears and heart to another person and reap the reward of making another person feel validated and heard.
Cindy Platt is a parenting specialist who writes at Your Life’s Blueprint.