How Can I Become a Better Listener?
We live in a world where communication is essential, yet ironically scarce. When is the last time you had a genuine conversation with someone where both parties sat down and truly listened to what the other was saying? In this article, we break down the reasons why effective listening is critical for healthy relationships and share some tips as to how you can become a better listener.
What does being a good listener look like?
A good listener is someone who listens because they want to understand someone, appreciate someone, learn something, or offer assistance and comfort. This is contrasted against the act of false listening whereby the listener is preoccupied with thinking about what to say next, is not really interested in the conversation or is only listening for a particular thing they want to hear.
The benefits of listening
By listening attentively, respect is communicated by you and, in return, is something you will gain from the speaker. Because of this exchange, you will enjoy increased likability amongst your peers and ultimately, better relationships as genuine listening generates stronger connections and feelings of goodwill in both the personal and professional spaces. At work, it can help with reducing errors related to miscommunication and can even help with improving your overall efficiency.
Unsure about how to become an effective listener? Here are 5 tips that will help!
5 tips on effective listening
#1. Always maintain eye contact
Do you have a habit of being easily distracted? The simplest way to avoid this is to practice setting aside anything that takes your attention away from the speaker. This includes putting away your laptop, papers, books and even your phone. Continue maintaining eye contact from your end even if it is not being reciprocated.
#2. Be empathetic
When you enter into a conversation, remember to keep an open mind. Refrain from passing judgements as being quick to criticise will compromise your ability to be a good listener. Once you are receptive and open, being empathetic will come naturally. If you are someone who struggles with empathy, try this out! The next time you converse with someone, imagine putting yourself in their shoes and practice feeling what it is like to be the speaker. This means that when the speaker expresses an emotion, you share in this same emotion and convey it through verbal and nonverbal cues. For example, you can reciprocate by feeling excited when the speaker is excited and, in turn, exhibit that through your facial expressions and speech!
#3. Be mindful of your talk/listen ratio
Apply a 2:1 ratio of listening to talking. “If you’re a note taker during meetings or conversations, try keeping track of how much you listen versus how much you talk,” says Scott Eblin, author Overworked and Overwhelmed: The Mindfulness Alternative. “Mark off a section of the paper and write down the names of all the people on the conference call. Whenever a person talks for more than a sentence or two, put a check mark by his or her name. That includes you, too. The visual representation of comparing listening to talking might hold some lessons for you.”
Sticking to a ratio like this can help you be more conscious of the speaker’s needs and ensure that you, as a listener, are not dominating the conversation.
#4. Practice active listening
Active listening is a concept whereby the listener repeats back to the speaker what they heard, asks questions for the purpose of clarification and summarizes what was said. The idea behind this is that the listener becomes fully immersed and engaged with what the speaker is saying which can help validate them and therefore allow them to feel more comfortable in sharing.
#5. Learn from professionals
What better way to learn how to become a better listener than hearing it straight from the horse’s mouth? Here at the Arium School of Arts and Sciences, we offer a range of courses that will help you acquire effective listening and counseling skills. Check below for some of the recommended programs or click here to see the complete list of the numerous short courses and diploma programs we offer!
Cuncic, A. (2020). How to Practice Active Listening . Retrieved from Very Well Mind: https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-active-listening-3024343
IBZ Coaching. (2018). Genuine Listening, A Precious Gift: 4 Strategies to Improve Conversations. Retrieved from Ilene Berns-Zare Coaching: https://ibzcoaching.com/2018/02/genuine-listening-improve-conversations/
Silver Delta. (n.d.). 5 Benefits of Being a Great Listener . Retrieved from Silver Delta: http://silverdelta.co.nz/blog/5-benefits-of-being-a-great-listener/
Schilling, D. (2012). 10 Steps To Effective Listening . Retrieved from Forbes: https://www.forbes.com/sites/womensmedia/2012/11/09/10-steps-to-effective-listening/?sh=592247263891
Vozza, S. (2017). 6 Ways to Become a Better Listener. Retrieved from Fast Company: https://www.fastcompany.com/3068959/6-ways-to-become-a-better-listener