If you can develop the art of listening well, you can improve all areas of your life: professionally, academically, socially, and personally. That’s why we have covered everything about how to improve your listening skills.
Communication is important for everyone – whether it’s a friend, family member, co-worker, or even the random stranger you interact with during the day.
In today’s tech culture, communication is more important than ever, but people are spending less and less time seriously listening to each other. True listening is increasingly rare but important for building relationships, dealing with problems, developing understanding, resolving disagreements, and increasing accuracy.
If you listen well at work, you will make fewer mistakes and waste less time. Now you may have questions about how to improve your listening skills.
Well, you can improve by timely eye contact, staying alert and relaxed, not interrupting the speaker, asking timely questions, not jumping to conclusions, and building empathy.
Not only does listening improve your comprehension and communication skills, it can also make others feel more comfortable conversing with you.
Here in this article, we have pointed out 10 steps on how to improve your listening skills.
Step 1: Consider eye contact while facing the speaker
Timely eye contact really helps to build a connection between both speaker and learner and gives an answer on how to improve listening skills to some extent.
Talking to someone while scanning a room, looking at a computer screen, or looking out a window is like trying to hit a moving target. How much of that person’s split attention are you actually getting? 50 percent? 5 percent? If the person is your child, you can say, “Look at me when I’m talking to you,” but don’t say that to your lover, friend, or co-worker.
In most Western cultures, eye contact is considered a fundamental part of effective communication. You need to look into each other’s eyes while you are speaking.
It’s not that you can’t have a conversation across the room or from another room, but if the conversation lasts too long, you or someone else will get up and move. A desire for better communication unites you.
Give your interlocutor the courtesy you turn to them. Put papers, books, phones, and other distractions aside. Consider looking at the speaker, even if they aren’t looking at you.
For some people, shyness, anxiety, shame, guilt, other emotions, and cultural taboos prevent them from making eye contact. Sorry for the others, but please focus.
Step 2: Stay alert and relax.
Now that you’ve made eye contact, relax. No need to stare at your opponent. You can look away once in a while and carry on like a normal person. Important to note. Different ways of “taking care of others” include:
- Be present
- Pay attention
- Apply or manage yourself
Mindfully block distractions like background activity and noise. Also, don’t focus too much on the speaker’s accent or style. Finally, don’t let your own thoughts, feelings, or prejudices fool you.
Step 3: Open your mind.
Listen without judging them or mentally criticizing what they are saying. If what she says bothers you, be careful. Indulging in judgmental confusion undermines your effectiveness as a listener.
Don’t jump to conclusions, listen. Remember, speakers use words to express thoughts and feelings in their brains. I don’t know what those thoughts and feelings are. The only way to understand better it is to listen sincerely.
Don’t be a sentence grabber. Occasionally, people cannot slow down their mental pace enough to listen effectively, so they try to quicken their pace by pausing and finishing the sentences.
This usually upsets people a lot because they follow their own train of thought and don’t know where the ideas of a speaker are going.
Step 4: Listen to the speaker and try to illustrate the aspiration in your mind
Allow your mind to create a mental model of the information being sent. Whether it’s a literal image or an arrangement of abstract concepts, if you stay focused and your senses are fully awake, your brain will do the work it needs to do. If you listen for long periods of time, focus on keywords and phrases to remember.
Don’t waste time thinking about what to say next when it’s actually your turn to listen. You cannot practice and listen at the same time. Consider what the other person is saying.
Finally, focus on what’s being said, even if it’s boring. If your mind starts to wander, refocus quickly.
Step 5: Do not interrupt or push the “solution”.
Children were taught that it was rude to disturb them. I don’t know if this message gets any more attention. Indeed, most talk shows and reality shows are modeled after, even if loud, aggressive, and outspoken behavior is not encouraged.
Interrupts send various messages that might not favor your true aspiration.
We all think and speak at different speeds. If you’re a quick-thinking, nimble talker, you’re responsible for slowing down the pace for slower, more thoughtful communicators, or men who struggle to express themselves.
If you hear someone talking about a problem, don’t suggest a solution. Most of us don’t want your advice anyway. If yes, we ask for it, we prefer to find our own solutions. Please listen and help us. At some point in the future, at least get the speaker’s permission if you’re into a great solution. Ask, “Would you like to hear my thoughts?”
Step 6: Wait for the speaker to pause and ask a clarifying question.
Of course, if you don’t understand something, you should ask the speaker for clarification. But instead of pausing the conversation, wait for the speaker to pause.
Don’t jump to conclusions, listen. Remember that speakers express their inner thoughts and feelings in words. I don’t know what those feelings and ideas are. The only way to learn is by listening.
Step 7: Just ask questions for better understanding.
This particular conversational insult happens all the time. Our questions take people in unrelated directions than they thought they would. Sometimes it goes back to the original topic, but most of the time it doesn’t.
If you realize that your question has misled the speaker, take responsibility for restarting the conversation by saying something like, “It’s nice to hear from you. Please tell us more about your adventures in your recent trek.”
Reflect on the speaker’s emotions to show that you understand the speaker’s point of view. If the speaker’s emotions are masked or unclear, it may be important to repeat the message to make sure you understand it. Show understanding with nods, appropriate facial gestures, and well-timed positive sounds.
Step 8: Try to feel the aspiration behind the speaker.
When the interlocutor expresses sadness, he becomes sad, when he says joy, he feels happy, and when he expresses fear, he feels anxiety and expresses these emotions through facial expressions and words. If he does, your effectiveness as a listener is assured.
Empathy is the heart and soul of a good listener.
To gain empathy, you need to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and be able to feel what it’s like to be that person at that moment. It’s not easy. It takes energy and concentration. But it is generous and helpful, facilitating communication like no other.
Step 9: Give the speaker regular feedback.
By reflecting on the speaker’s feelings, you show that you understand where the speaker is coming from. “You must be excited!” “What a terrible ordeal for you.” “You look confused.” When the speaker’s feelings are hidden or unclear, restate the content of the message from time to time.
Or, nod and show understanding with an appropriate facial expression and the occasional well-timed “hmm” or “hmm.” The idea is to prove to the speaker that you are listening and following their thoughts instead of indulging in their own daydreams while they talk to the airwaves.
In work situations, whether at work or at home, always repeat instructions and messages to make sure you understand them correctly.
Step 10: Pay attention to what is not said – non-verbal cues.
Excluding e-mail makes it more likely that most direct communication is non-verbal. We gather a lot of information about each other without exchanging words. Even on the phone, we can learn as much about a person from their tone and inflections as from their words.
When you’re talking to your best friend, it doesn’t matter what you’re talking about. Hearing a chuckle in his/her voice gives you the reassurance that he/she’ll be okay.
When you’re facing a person, you can very quickly detect excitement, boredom, or irritation from the look around your eyes, the set of your mouth, and the tilt of your shoulders. These are hints you can’t ignore. As you listen, remember that words convey only part of the message.
All the techniques above can be used in both personal and professional situations for improving your listening as well as communication skills and they give a clear understanding of how to improve listening skills. Some may be more relevant in some cases, but if you practice them, you will be more attentive and people will find you easier to talk to.
That said, it’s important to be open to communication styles and how different people approach them. In your work and personal life, you are likely to meet people with different experiences and backgrounds, and you should consider them when communicating with others.
Soft skills such as empathy, listening, and teamwork are just as important as hard skills acquired through work experience and academic learning.