To engage in effective communication, one needs to listen properly and respond. We all know there’s a difference between hearing and listening. When a sound is sensed by the ears, hearing happens; this doesn’t require any special efforts. However, listening happens only when we consciously put efforts to understand the meaning of the words.This requires concentration on what others are saying. Listening by itself requires efforts, so one can understand that listening well requires much more efforts and concentration. To be able to mingle with others easily and actively participate in conversations, it is important that we listen well.
Many people wrongly assume that if they are not talking much and letting others do the talking, they are good listeners. What happens in such cases is that they might be hearing to what others say rather than listening well. Listening is an art in itself that needs the practice to perfect. Here are some pointers to enhance the art of listening.
- Eye contact: The first step to learn the art of listening is making eye contact with the person to whom we are speaking. All of us might have had an irritating experience of feeling neglected and rejected when we were speaking to someone. If we think a little on this, we get to know that person was not interested in us so, didn’t bother to listen to us. The key take away from this point is that we should be interested in what the other person is saying and to demonstrate this we have to make an eye contact with the people whom we are talking to.
- No interruption: We should make a note of the point that interrupting while others are speaking is not a good sign of listening attentively. Good listening is that where the speaker gets uninterrupted attention and is able to convey his thoughts without our opinions thrust upon him.
- Body language: Although we should not disrupt when others are talking, we should neither sit silently to make others believe that we are only physically present but not mentally. To make people understand that we are listening, we should use few words and our body language like a nod, a smile etc. It’s not just our body language that is important, but the speaker’s body language as well. Good listening skills include comprehending the speaker’s non-verbal communication also and acting accordingly.
- Open-ended questions: When the other person has finished talking, we should ask some open-ended questions to reinforce the fact that we are actively listening to what has been said and we understand it.
- Being open-minded: One of the most important aspects of listening skills is being open-minded while listening without any preconceived notions. We should not have a negative evaluation or judgment about the other person’s thoughts while they are speaking. This helps us to understand what they actually mean to say and reciprocate accordingly.
- Observation and analysis: Observing people and their conversations is a good way to master listening skills. Also, we can take our family and friends’ opinion on what they think of us per our listening skills and improve on points which they don’t like in us.
People who master listening skills enjoy a better life because people are attracted towards them and they make much better relationships due to their effective listening and communication skills.
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