How To Become A Better Listener
You might well think that good communication skills simply require you to have enough confidence to speak up and have your say, but it’s actually a bit more complicated than that, we’re afraid. A huge part of communicating well with others is actually learning to become a better listener – which truly can be very difficult if you’re not used to it. And when you find out that listening isn’t just about using your ears either.
All sorts of elements are involved in listening well – and remember that there’s always room for improvement. What you must bear in mind as well is that a lot of people out there aren’t good communicators at all, so you’ll have to do some of the hard work as a good listener to work out what they’re trying to convey.
You’ll have to know when you should listen intently and when you can get away with just paying partial attention. Don’t be scared to ask someone to repeat or clarify something – they won’t think you’ve not been attentive and in fact they’ll more likely appreciate the fact that you’ve asked.
A good listener will also be able to read between the lines a little as a lot of communication actually goes unsaid. Does the person you’re conversing with only ever talk about work? Perhaps their home life isn’t as happy as it could be or perhaps they’re finding their job stressful. Thinking about what’s been left unspoken can really help you boost your listening and communication skills no end.
You’ll also have to start observing body language and behaviour, as you can glean an awful lot about what someone’s trying to say in this way. Look at their face for example – does it seem tense? Does their voice pitch change frequently? Are their arms crossed? Cues like this could tell you that you should try and appear relaxed to help them feel the same way, since a pitchy voice can indicate high emotions, while crossed arms can mean someone’s feeling defensive.
And, of course, the best listeners out there know exactly when to join in a conversation and say their piece and when to keep quiet and, well, listen. In a discussion environment, the conversation can quickly go awry if everyone talks at once so you should start thinking about whether what you have to say would add something to the debate at that particular point or if it could wait until the end, where you could ask some follow-up questions instead.
Interruptions can be quite damaging to the person who’s been interrupted so always take the time to think about how you can have your say without making someone feel invalidated. Let them speak, relax and get into the flow of it all – and in doing so, they may well become comfortable enough to say something they might not have done otherwise.
If you want to improve your listening skills, get in touch with us today to discuss a place on one of our personal training courses.