Listening is a learnable skill. Although many think of listening as a perfectly natural and intuitive action, it’s quite easy to get it wrong.
When you listen with attention, it can have a powerful impact at work and in your personal life.
But the benefits of listening well can impact a business’s success as well. Business owners who listen to their customers get more email subscribers, make more sales and see business growth. If you have a business based on communication, such as providing the best phone services, then you can’t afford to have poor listening skills.
Good listening habits means increases the likelihood of better communication. This will have positive outcomes in the lives of everyone around you.
Most people are passive listeners, not focusing deeply enough on what a speaker is trying to communicate. It’s important to become an active listener, someone who doesn’t just focus on the spoken words but also picks up on non-verbal cues.
With active listening, you understand the other person’s experiences better. There are many small things you can do to become a better and more active listener. These steps will help you develop the skills of an active listener.
Give the speaker your entire attention
Although this seems obvious, many people fail to listen well because they are preoccupied with internal and external distractions. Internal distractions are things like personal concerns and biases.
External distractions like your cellphone or television can create interruptions that take your focus away. Make sure that you’ve put aside your own concerns when you’re listening. It’s very helpful to keep away your cellphone and to turn off the television so external sounds don’t distract you or the speaker.
Try to be as present as possible. Allow the speaker to finish what they’re saying and don’t make assumptions about what they’re about to say. When you focus, you can watch for cues and context to help you understand the speaker better.
If you’re a writer or a business owner who wants to start a blog or make a website, listening to your readers is essential. You need to create content that your visitors want to read, and you can do that only when you’re paying attention.
Lean into the silence
Pauses and gaps are normal in a conversation. It’s not necessary to fill in a pause. Sometimes, people need a little time to process their thoughts and to think about what they’ll say next.
You can let silence just happen by nodding in agreement or saying making short comments. A simple ‘Yes’ or ‘That makes sense’ is all you need to say in response when the speaker is trying to say something.
When you don’t rush in to fill a gap, the speaker can resume what they’re saying and share something they are working out in their mind. It’s important to let natural silences happen. With practice, you’ll be able to overcome any discomfort that arises during silence patches in a conversation.
Practise complete acceptance and reserve judgment
It’s important to learn to listen to people without judging what they’re saying. Active listening is not about listening so that you say something in response.
This is important, especially at first, because it will give the speaker the space they need to express themselves fully. This will also give you a chance to get more information and see things from the speaker’s perspective.
It’s possible that the speaker may be mistaken or misinformed. But listening without reserve acknowledges their current perception of the world. If you’re listening without total acceptance it will likely reflect in your expressions and body language. This can make the speaker alter what they were going to say and lead to poorer communication.
Ask relevant questions
You can show the speaker that you’re listening by asking relevant questions. It also creates the opportunity to clarify what the speaker is trying to communicate. Ask open-ended questions that lead to deeper discussions and creates more understanding.
However, be careful with ‘Why’ questions because it can make people feel defensive. Ask questions that are relevant to what the speaker just said and helps them explain their thoughts in greater depth.
Pay attention to the tone and body language
Communication doesn’t just take place with words. In a face-to-face situation, you need to pay attention to a person’s body language and tone of voice. The emphasis on words, pauses, and tone of voice can also be significant in phone conversations.
You can get additional information from gestures and facial expressions that give weight to different things that are said. This will help you pick up on their feelings and thoughts with more clarity.
Use listening to improve every aspect of your life
With the suggestions given here, you’ll be able to develop impressive listening skills.
This can impact your interactions with other people profoundly. Businesses can also listen to their customers better to create strong relationships. Those that outsource customer service should ensure that they maintain excellent communication with customers.
Better listening ensures success in personal life and in business. Ultimately, it benefits you as much as it benefits the speaker when you listen with care, if not more.