The Art of Listening: 9 Tips to Improve Your Skills
Everyone believes that they are exceptional listeners.
What could be simpler than taking some time to sit down and simply listen to what the other person has to say?
Hearing does not always equate to listening, nor does it always equate to listening “well”.
According to a quote attributed to G.K. Chesterton, “there is a significant gap between hearing and listening.”
The fact of the matter is that many individuals enter into conversations with certain goals in mind, whether those goals are to ensure that they are heard, to ensure that they are not heard, or to ensure that they are able to flee the conversation entirely. It’s likely that you’ll go with the last option if you’re an introvert.
If you’re anything like me, you undoubtedly find yourself on the receiving end of a seemingly endless number of discussions that you didn’t start. Even if you keep to yourself and listen to what they have to say, the truth is that you would much rather be engaged in some other activity.
The issue with having this emotion all the time is that it prevents us from really hearing the individuals who are trying to communicate with us. We do not devote our whole attention, interest, or heart to genuinely comprehending what they are saying to us and listening to what they have to say. And not only does this generate a feeling of alienation inside us, but the other person experiences that same feeling of alienation as well.
The Practice of Active Listening
There is no guarantee that you are a good listener just because you keep to yourself and allow other people to do the majority of the talking. Even if you’re skilled at communicating and receiving what the other person says, it doesn’t always follow that you’re also a good listener.
How many times have you wished to be heard and understood, only to have the person on the receiving end of your communication rummaging through files, ordering pizza in the background, or texting as you talk?
When others don’t listen to what you have to say, it might make them feel disconnected and lonely.
In addition to the need for food, drink, and a safe place to live, one of the most fundamental requirements of human beings is the desire to be heard and understood. However, the unfortunate truth is that the majority of us are lacking in this fundamental life ability.
The art form known as “listening” It asks us to have patience, receptivity, an open mind, and to refrain from passing judgment on others. It asks us to refrain from assuming that we completely comprehend the other person, not fill in gaps in their understanding, and not put words in their lips.
Listening practice has characteristics that are reminiscent of Zen meditation. It is beneficial to us not just on a social level but also on a spiritual level because of this.
Those who are skilled listeners to others are also adept at inward listening to themselves.
This is the cornerstone upon which self-love, self-awareness, and self-knowledge are built.
In point of fact, the ability to listen attentively is an essential component of techniques like meditation and mindfulness. Why not practice this ability with other people on a daily basis and strive to make the most of any chance that presents itself?
The Secrets to Becoming an Excellent Listener
Putting this essential ability into practice in your day-to-day life may be done in the following ways:
1. Establish Eye Contact
This first guideline is extremely straightforward, yet many people still overlook it. When you don’t look at the person who is talking to you while they are doing so, you give off the idea that you are uninterested in what it is that they have to say. To all intents and purposes, it seems as if you don’t even care about what happens to them.
2. Don’t Interrupt
Permit the individual to continue speaking without interruption. In order to become a master of the art of listening, you must learn to suppress any positive ideas that enter your head and give the other person the opportunity to finish what they came to talk about. People often just need someone to speak to, not someone who will interject their own ideas and perspectives into the conversation at any given moment. At this point, it is more important to put the focus on them than on you.
3. Make it a Habit to Engage in “Active Listening”
The skill of listening requires not just complete silence but also the intentional posing of questions to the speaker being listened to. These questions are meant to elicit clarification or extra explanation from the speaker so that you are able to comprehend all that is being said to you. For example, queries such as these are very smart: “Are you saying that _____,” “What I heard you say was _____,” and “Did you mean that _____” are all questions that might be asked in this context.
4. Demonstrate That You Understand
Nodding is another fantastic gesture to demonstrate that you are paying attention and comprehending what another person is saying to you. You may also demonstrate that you are paying attention to what the other person is saying by making sounds such as “yes,” “yeah,” “mhmm,” and “okay.” Even if it may seem unimportant, it is essential to avoid behaving in a mindless manner and instead display some attention and knowledge.
5. Attend to Your Audience Without Thinking
In other words, refrain from formulating replies in your head as you listen. Maintain a sincere attitude and pay attention to the whole of the message. There is a strong temptation to fill in the blanks since, after all, our thoughts think around 800 words per minute, yet the average person only speaks 125–150 words per minute. Don’t let your thoughts wander since you could miss some important facts!
6. Do not pass Judgment While You Listen
It is of the utmost importance to refrain from making any critical assessments or snap judgements in order to properly acquire the art of listening. Make it one of your primary objectives to have an open mind at all times. After all, who wants to share their thoughts and feelings with someone who has a limited worldview? It is also helpful to be aware of the exact words, glances, or circumstances that lead you to stop listening. These triggers might cause you to “close off,” or stop paying attention to what is being said to you. You will be able to stop yourself from shutting down in the future if you proceed in this manner.
7. Pay Attention to Other Forms of Communication
Between sixty and seventy-five percent of all of our communication is nonverbal. That’s quite a bit! It is crucial to know what the person’s body language is saying in order to know whether to encourage the speaker, to open oneself up further, or to approach things in a more helpful manner. Do they show any indicators that they are uncomfortable? Are they on guard because of you? Is there congruence between what they say and how they behave?
8. Make Sure the Atmosphere is Appropriate
When the TV is blaring, your phone is ringing, and there are hundreds of automobiles driving by, it might be difficult to listen to another person. It is much simpler to listen with empathy, with an open mind and a complete heart, when all of these distractions are removed, and when you locate a peaceful location to sit down and listen, it is much easier to do so. You are showing that you value the other person as well as what it is that they have to say when you suggest that it would be beneficial to “find a peaceful area.” You have shown concern and thoughtfulness once again.
9. Pay Attention to How Others Act
Why not look at other people as a way to improve your own listening skills if you are really committed to being an excellent listener? Observing the manner in which people communicate with one another, as well as all of the annoying and impolite things that they do, is one of the most effective ways to improve your listening skills. Make a list of your “annoying habits,” then examine them to see whether you engage in any of them. If you have the guts, you may even ask a person you know and trust what they like and hate about the way you engage in conversation with other people and let them share their feedback with you.
Respect for Oneself Is Necessary to Acquire Before Attempting to Master the Art of Listening
Do you always have to pay close attention to what everyone has to say? No This is not a realistic expectation, and attempting to meet it may be quite taxing. It is completely OK to select and choose the people to whom you give your attention. Again, this demands giving careful attention to your inner voice and the requirements of your own life. Do you need a nap? Is the other person crossing your personal boundaries too often? Do you have anything else you need to get done? You are free to make a line here.
Respect, not just for oneself but also for other people, is necessary for active listening. You don’t have to be anyone’s doormat, martyr, or therapist. You don’t even have to be nice to everyone. But you should be aware of the distinction that the power of listening has, which is that it gives you a feeling of being more connected to life and to other people.
You deserve to feel connected to others, but you also need to heed your own requirements, so approach this skill with a healthy level of respect for yourself.
The ability to listen is one that may be applied to many different facets of life.
According to a quote attributed to Diogenes Laertius, “We have two ears but only one tongue in order that we may listen more and say less.” The ability to listen well is one of the most important life skills. Not only will it assist you in communicating more effectively with your family and friends, but it will also assist you in being successful in every other aspect of your life.
If you found this post useful, we would appreciate it if you would leave a comment or share your experience with us.