Are You a Good Listener?
Do you think you’re a good listener? The answer may surprise you! Learn how to listen effectively the next time your partner, friend or family member comes to you for guidance, to vent, or just simply to catch up.
1. Step into their shoes.
A large part of being a good listener requires you to step into their shoes for the moment and actively try to look at the issue from their perspective. Even if you don’t necessarily agree with what they’re telling you, can you see the logic behind how they view their current situation?
2. Encourage them.
Through the use of facial and body gestures, it’s important to encourage the speaker to continue talking. Using body language effectively can help your friend open up more and realize that you truly are there for them. If the person feels that you aren’t putting 100% of yourself into the conversation, they are less likely to continue speaking because they sense a lack of emotional interest.
3. Ask questions.
Continue the conversation by asking relevant questions that lets the speaker know you are paying attention. This doesn’t mean you should get too personal (this could make the speaker defensive), but instead ask questions to clarify a point you don’t understand or to get a more in-depth response from the speaker.
4. Be patient.
When listening to a person speak, it’s important not to jump in right away with your own conclusions or advice about the matter at hand. Rather than feel awkward by your silence, embrace it; the speaker will be able to let their thoughts out without fear of interruption, and you are able to get a better view of the whole picture when you aren’t constantly jumping in.
5. Avoid criticism.
In order for people to feel like they can speak to you, you need to earn a reputation as someone who cares. When you attack another person for their thoughts or feelings, you aren’t opening yourself up for further conversations with that person — or anyone, for that matter! Even if you do not agree with the way they handled things, it’s important to keep these thoughts to yourself and understand that everyone has their own way of dealing with things.
6. Understand that not everyone wants your help.
A huge mistake I see people make all the time (yes, myself included!) is offering advice or trying to help the person we are listening to. You should understand that not everyone who will come to you to talk is looking for your help. Rather than automatically assume they want your guidance, be their sounding board instead. If they want your help, they’ll ask for it.
Listening is a huge part of communicating effectively with other people, and if your listening skills aren’t up to par it can be very frustrating for people who want to talk to you. Learning how to listen well will help your relationships greatly, and you will be able to communicate with friends, family, and your significant other much more effectively.
Do you consider yourself a good listener? Why or why not? What are some of your tips to improve listening skills?