Listen Like You Mean it!

There is almost nothing better than when someone really listens to us and we get the sense that they understand exactly what we are saying and how we feel about it. The following skills will help you become a better listener and if you practice them, improve your relationships.

How to Listen Well:

  • Stop talking.
  • Clear your mind. One of the most common obstacles is what goes on in our own head when we are trying to listen. Instead of paying attention, we begin to think about what we will say next to defend ourselves, to make a point, or even to agree. Don’t do it! Focus on the other person and what they are saying and feeling. You don’t have to agree with someone to understand them.
  • Pay attention. Another common problem is distraction. It really isn’t possible to listen well with the TV on or your eyes locked on a cell phone.
  • Make time to listen. Sometimes important discussions should be scheduled. Don’t try to have a serious talk when you are hurried.
  • Make eye contact.
  • Lean forward. Show you are interested in what the other person is saying with your body language.
  • Check your assumptions. Ask the person you are listening to for clarification. Don’t assume you know what they mean. Get more details. Ask questions.
  • Restate in your own words what has been said and ask if you are getting it.
  • Guess at the feelings being expressed, even if the person hasn’t used any feeling words. You might say, “It sounds like you were frustrated with your boss today. Is that right?”
  • Empathize.
  • Be patient. Don’t finish sentences or jump in too soon. Some people pause for quite a while before continuing to speak. This can be particularly true when dealing with emotional topics.

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