In today’s fast-paced world full of pressure, stress and demands, it’s easy to let our listening skills slip. We’re so busy trying to multitask, that we don’t even stop to think about whether or not we’re really hearing what people are saying. But being able to listen well is critical to both professional success and personal relationships. Good listeners know how their words and actions affect others—and they take responsibility for them. A good listener will also help manage difficult conversations by asking questions for clarification, paraphrasing what was said so everyone knows where they stand on an issue and repeating back what you heard when you’re working with someone who has a hard time expressing themselves clearly (like children).
Begin with a commitment to good listening.
Developing your listening skills is a process. It will take time, dedication and practice. But the benefits of good listening skills are worth it: You’ll achieve more in life, be happier and feel more fulfilled. As you become an expert listener, you’ll find that other people begin to seek out your advice or input because they know they can count on you to give them the benefit of your insight.
Pay attention to nonverbal cues.
When you’re listening to someone, pay attention to their nonverbal cues. These include their eye contact, facial expressions, posture and body language (e.g., how they’re sitting or standing), gestures and proximity (e.g., if someone is moving toward you or away from you).
Pay attention to the way that your speaker is speaking—their vocal tone and pitch will provide information about what they’re feeling. For example:
- A low pitch can mean that the person is sad or upset
- A high pitch can mean that they are excited
Listen both with your ears and your eyes.
The best way to listen is by looking at the person you’re talking to. Keep your eyes on them as they talk and watch their body language, facial expressions, and gestures as they say things. If they seem hesitant or uncomfortable with what they’re saying, that’s something worth paying attention to! The same goes for how quickly or slowly someone speaks—this can be a good indicator of how much enthusiasm or enthusiasm there is about what’s being said.
If you want to learn more about nonverbal cues (signs that someone isn’t being completely honest), read this article on Psychology Today: [link].
Pick up on emotional cues.
One of the most important things that you can do to improve your listening skills is to pick up on emotional cues. The tone of a person’s voice, their words, body language and facial expressions all tell you about their emotions. So if someone says “it was really fun when we went on that trip last year” but their face looks sad and their body language seems tense, then you could take from that that they aren’t happy about going on the trip again this year.
You can also listen for how people talk about themselves in stories or conversations. If someone says “I hate myself for being so stupid! I should have known better! What was I thinking?” then it sounds like they are feeling down about something bad that happened in the past (or imagining something bad happening in the future).
How do others want to be listened to?
Developing effective listening skills is a two-way street. It’s not just about paying attention to the other person, but also about making sure that they know you’re actively listening to them. This will help them feel more comfortable with you, which will improve your relationship and allow you to develop better communication skills.
You can begin by asking questions at appropriate points in their story so that they feel like you care about what they’re saying. You might also want to avoid interrupting them or finishing their sentences for them; this can make it seem like you’re only interested in your own opinions and not theirs. Instead, let them finish talking before responding with any questions of your own or offering advice or opinions on top of theirs!
Listen well in meetings.
Meetings are a great opportunity to practice your listening skills. This is because there’s so much going on in meetings that you can miss if you don’t listen well. You might hear something said and then later realize that it was just the tip of the iceberg—there was so much more going on than what you heard initially.
There are many reasons why people talk, but one reason that may be overlooked is because they’re not sure if their message will be heard correctly. They’ll say what they think will be heard as opposed to saying what they really want or mean—this makes it important for us to listen carefully in order to understand what’s really being communicated!
As a leader, when someone shares an idea with me I make sure to give them my full attention while asking questions along the way so that I can fully understand where they’re coming from with their suggestion or idea (and sometimes this takes more than once).
Listen well on the phone.
- Be polite and courteous.
- Use positive body language.
- Be patient. Don’t interrupt your caller and don’t rush him or her to get off the phone.
- Avoid distractions, such as reading or watching television while on the phone with a customer; it’s rude and unprofessional for both parties involved in the conversation, who are trying to communicate with one another.
- Don’t multitask when you’re speaking with someone else; focus solely on them and what they have to say so that you can properly respond or act accordingly based upon their needs as well as yours!
If you follow these simple tips for good listening skills on the phone, you’ll find yourself being able to communicate effectively with customers across all platforms–whether over chat apps like WhatsApp or iMessage (or even via text message), call centers staffed by trained professionals who might be located anywhere in the world–and even handwritten letters sent via snail mail!
Use active listening skills in face-to-face conversations.
When you’re having a conversation with someone in person, active listening skills can be a great way to show that you’re interested and engaged. You can practice them by:
- Using your eyes to focus on the person talking.
- Asking questions about what they’ve said.
- Reflecting back what you hear, for example, saying “Just so I’m clear on this…,” or starting your next sentence with “What I hear you saying is…”
- Using nonverbal cues such as nodding or smiling at appropriate times during the conversation.
- Using active listening skills when speaking face-to-face: Ask for clarification when needed; use phrases like “I don’t understand” or “What do you mean?”, rather than silence; stay focused on what’s being said (don’t let your mind wander) while trying not to interrupt (wait until it’s clear that the speaker is finished); take turns speaking more often than not; make eye contact while listening and speak clearly (don’t mumble).
Practice your listening skills in difficult situations.
- Practice your listening skills in difficult situations.
- The next time you’re dealing with a difficult situation, try to listen more than you speak. This will help you to improve your listening skills and develop the ability to truly hear what people are saying: their tone of voice, their body language or gestures, and so on. Pay attention to these details when a person is speaking and ask questions if necessary—but don’t respond until they have finished speaking (unless it is an emergency).
- Our natural tendency is usually just to respond quickly without actually listening first because we want our own opinion or idea across at all costs. This can be damaging for relationships as well as damaging for our self-esteem if we feel like we are always putting ourselves down by not being heard properly by others around us!
Committing to becoming a great listener
The good news is that you can become a great listener by working actively at it and having a commitment to do so. Listening is not just a passive activity that you do when someone else talks; it’s an active process where you make conscious choices about how much information you want to get out of what someone says, and how best to understand them. The better at this skill you are, the more likely it is that people will want to talk with you because they know they will be understood well enough for their needs (and most importantly, their goals) as well as yours.
If you want to become a good listener, the first step is to make a commitment to yourself. Do you have any specific goals in mind? If so, write them down and keep them somewhere where they’re visible every day. Then commit to doing one thing each day that will help you get closer