Today’s world has become one of instant gratification—we want things fast and we want things NOW. Communication today is more important than ever, yet we seem to devote less and less time to really, truly listening to each other. Genuine listening has become a very rare gift. It is the gift of time. How well you listen has an enormous impact on how effective you are in your job as well as the quality of your relationships with others. Becoming an active listener means going beyond just listening. An active listener:
- Listens attentively while someone else is speaking
- Paraphrases and reflects back what is said
- Withholds any judgement and advice
- You are completely engaged in what the other person says
- You are patient while listening
Here’s how you can become a better active listener.
Face the speaker and maintain eye contact.
If you try to talk to someone while they are not even looking at you is like trying to hit a moving target. Eye contact is considered a basic component of effective communication in most Western cultures. Put aside any distractions and look at them, even if they don’t look at you.
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Acknowledge & engage.
You never want the other person to wonder if you have been listening to what they are saying. It is importance to understand that to enhance your skills as an active listener, you must be engaged in the conversation and acknowledge what is being said. Acknowledgement can be as simple as a nod of the head or saying “uh-huh”. Indicate that you are listening and use your body language to not only acknowledge you are listening, but to remind you to pay attention and keep your mind from wandering.
Be thoughtful in how you respond after listening. As an active listener, your role is to understand what is being said. Stop, reflect and ask questions. Ask questions to clarify points like, “What I’m hearing is,” or “It Sounds like you are saying,” And always allow the speaker to finish each point before you begin asking questions.
Now you can become a better active listener with these techniques to develop better relationships, enhance your communication skills and improve your workplace productivity. Get out there and listen—actively!
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