We all want someone with whom we can share our innermost thoughts and feelings. Doesn’t it feel wonderful to confide in a close friend, family member or partner who takes the time to listen to us and understand us?
Have you ever thought about the qualities one needs to become a good listener and confidant? Listening is more than just hearing the words that are spoken. It’s about digging deeper to uncover the meaning behind these words. Someone may say one thing when they actually mean something else entirely.
Perhaps you notice your friend has become quiet and morose. You ask him what’s wrong, but he tells you he’s fine. But from the way he avoids eye contact and leans away from you, you realize that his words don’t match his body language. You are able to develop a deeper understanding of your friend’s moods and feelings because you listened to not just his words but also to his expressions and body language.
The act of listening to and interpreting both verbal and nonverbal cues is known as active listening. This involves paying as much attention to the speaker’s facial expressions or gestures as to the words they say and the tone of voice they use.
What Is Active Listening?
When someone listens actively and attentively, they are authentic, empathetic and respectful in their listening. These three elements form the Harappa EAR of Listening Framework. Harappa Education’s Listening Actively course will teach you this concept and others to help you become a good listener and navigate the obstacles to listening.
The obstacles to listening include our own biases and prejudices as well as external distractions. Being a better listener means identifying and overcoming these barriers to listening.
A good listener is someone who pays attention to what’s being said. They’re entirely devoted to the speaker’s words and body language. You have to give the other person your complete attention if you want to retain and process the information they’re sharing.
There are some key strategies for effective listening that can help you become a good listener. Let’s explore how to become a good listener with strategies to improve listening skills.
How To Be A Good Listener
Think about why you want to be a good listener. Perhaps it’s so that you can form stronger bonds with your friends, family and colleagues. This means that you care about what others want to share.
In the workplace, strategies for listening attentively can help you build a rapport with others and get along with your teammates better. For instance, you can share your opinions without worrying that you’ll disappoint your manager.
Here are some important strategies for effective listening:
Learn to listen, not just hear
Are you using your hearing ability to its full potential? Say that someone has told you the recipe for a chocolate cake. If all you took from it was a craving for something sweet, you did not listen effectively. Strategies for listening highlight the difference between merely registering someone else’s words and applying that knowledge. When you really listen to what someone has to say, you will be able to gauge their meaning better.
Take an interest in other people’s ideas
Most of us simply nod along to someone’s words without paying much attention to what they’re talking about. An easy way to listen effectively is to take an actual interest in the subject being discussed. You may find it easier to concentrate when you know the context and topic. You can even add to the conversation with your own insights and experiences to facilitate an exchange of ideas.
Ask the right questions
Ask questions to show that you’re paying attention. Someone might have said something that went over your head. Find the right opportunity and ask questions to improve your own understanding. Asking thoughtful questions helps you improve your knowledge. It also shows the speaker that you’re interested in and engaged in the conversation. They’ll find it easier to open up to you and share what’s on their mind.
Wait for the other person to finish talking
A simple way to improve your listening ability is to wait until someone has finished talking before you answer or provide inputs. It’s very easy for us to interrupt someone because we have a lot to add. You might feel the urge to get your points in quickly and end the conversation. But there’s wisdom in listening to people and allowing them to finish what they’re saying. Being respectful and patient is key to listening actively.
Address the key takeaways of the conversation
We tend to forget most of a conversation as soon as it’s over. Try to retain the key takeaways by mentally going over the main points or writing them down after the conversation. This is an especially useful step when listening in the workplace. When we write and share the minutes of a business meeting with everyone involved, for instance, we are following the same principle. Revisiting your notes may bring up further questions that you’d like to clarify with the speaker.
Active listening is a skill that can be mastered with time and effort. Apart from the strategies to improve listening skills that we’ve discussed, there are several others you can use. With Harappa’s online Listening Actively course you can learn to overcome the barriers to listening and become an empathetic listener.
Explore topics such as Active Listening, Qualities of a Good Listener, How to Improve Listening Skills, Types of Listening & Listening Barriers from our Harappa Diaries section and become a good listener.
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