Listening to another human being is one of the greatest gifts we can give – to really listen without judgement or barging in to offer a solution.
But the truth is, many of us have never learned the art of how to listen well.
We get distracted by looking at the people around us, glancing down at our cell phones, or even figuring out in our own heads what we plan to say next.
And there’s nothing more disrespectful than communicating the message “you’re not worth paying attention to” to another human being.
The good news is, with a few simple tweaks we can learn how to listen better.
Put your phone away. Seriously.
If it still might ring, then turn it off.
There is nothing worse than talking to someone and having them glance down at their phone.
Show the respect to the person you are talking to – and put the phone away!
The same goes if you are behind a computer screen and someone walks into your office.
If they are talking to you, yet you keep glancing at your screen, it’s hard for them to feel heard.
You might have the desire to jump in and tell them the solution to their problem.
Or give your opinion on the subject.
Perhaps you are so eager to help your mind is already racing on what you are going to say in response instead of just listening.
Instead, take a different approach.
Oftentimes, people don’t necessarily even want a solution, they just want to be heard.
Giving your undivided attention to another human being who is sharing something from their world is a gift.
Resist the urge to jump in and speak. Let them finish talking.
To help them even more, you can ask a few questions such as “How did that make you feel?” or “What was the hardest part?” to get them to expand and process their thoughts more.
Body Language Matters
When listening, your body language speaks volumes.
Are your arms folded?
Do you have a scowl or a bored look on your face?
Do you make eye contact? Or avoid it?
Are your legs and torso crossed towards the person or away from them?
Do you have a smile on your face? Or are you frowning?
Be mindful of the signals you are sending!
When listening to someone, be sure to make eye contact and smile, nodding every few moments to acknowledge you hear what they are saying.
Make sure you are leaned in towards them, and your body language communicates you actually want to be there, vs sending the signal you’d rather be anywhere else.
Active listening is a skill, and if you can learn to do it well it will help you in all areas of your life – from professional to personal.
Practice the art of listening well during your next conversation and watch what happens!
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