Did you ever have a teacher tell you to “put your listening ears on?” The fact of the matter is that most of us aren’t good listeners. Studies have shown that the average person listens at only about 25% efficiency. We let a lot of information go in one ear and out the other.
The good news is we can improve our listening skills. You may currently be focused on the mechanics of listening – nodding your head, making eye contact, and mumbling uh-huh or okay as a person talks.
You may be missing out on the art of being a good listener. Listening is a crucial part of creating solid and meaningful relationships. You have multiple conversations every day. You may talk with your spouse, partner, children, friends, co-workers, acquaintances and even strangers. Are you taking the time to truly listen?
Here are 8 good listening habits that you can practice every time you take part in a conversation or discussion:
When you’re fully present and aware in the moment, you’re more likely to retain what you’re hearing and respond intelligently. This means put down the cell phone, stop running through your to-do list in your head, and really pay attention when someone is speaking.
Good listening is hard work. It’s not simply nodding along. Your senses are being bombarded by sights, sounds and smells all the time. You must ignore these stimuli and concentrate on the verbal sounds and any visual cues you are receiving from the speaker.
Part of effective listening is making the effort to empathize with the person who is speaking. Put yourself in the other person’s position. Think about what it must be like for them. You can connect and truly understand another person’s point of view if you can put yourself in their shoes.
Have an open mind
Everyone has their own thoughts and feelings. Our diverse backgrounds and histories make our thought patterns unique. Good listeners keep an open mind about the opinions and belief systems of others. Even if you don’t agree, you need to take the time to listen and understand another person’s thoughts.
While an important part of listening is just letting the other person vent or get something off of their chest, providing relevant feedback is one of the best ways to let someone know that they’ve been heard. Good listeners validate the feelings of others by asking questions and finding out more details.
Another great way to show that you’re listening is to restate what you’re hearing. You don’t need to repeat everything a person says, but by paraphrasing the speaker’s main thoughts, they know that you’re getting the message.
You need to be able to get comfortable during a conversation even if it makes you feel uncomfortable. If you’re thinking about how to respond or defend yourself, you’re not giving the conversation your full attention. You may have to mentally step back and take a moment before responding rashly.
Listen without advising
You may be in the habit of thinking that everyone wants your advice. You’re listening only to solve their problems. However, the speaker may just want to fill you in, give you their opinion, or vent on a topic. If you’re not sure, wait for the person to ask for your thoughts or opinions.
Good listeners focus intently and hear what others are saying – and what they aren’t saying. It’s easy to get distracted or let your mind wander. Make it a point to be a better listener. Try it today!