Listening: 8 Effective Tips
Communication is two-way traffic. You talk, I listen. I talk, you listen.
The benefit of good communication cannot be overemphasized. Poor communication has been known to be the root of many societal problems, relations breakups and conflicts amongst nations. When you talk and I don’t listen, and when I talk, you don’t listen, there is no way we can come to understand each other’s position. The misunderstandings this kind of situation brings has crippled many relationships. Hence the need for everyone to develop an effective listening technique that will build up rather than destroy.
Tips on Effective Listening
Many at times, when people talk to us, we are quick to interpret, moralize, interject, encourage, blame and do all sorts of things instead of just listening to them. A good communication flow requires that you listen while the other person talk. Keep your judgements and evaluations aside and just listen. The creator gave us two ears and one mouth so that we could listen more than we talk. In what follows, we shall consider a few tips on the use of this powerful tool of communication.
1. Meaningful Paraphrasing
This is the meaningful summarizing of the speaker’s statement. It allows the listener to demonstrate that he/she is attentive to the discussion. For example, a friend is sharing a difficult she is encountering in her marriage. For instance, you could say: ‘so you mean that your husband smokes a lot?’
This method helps you as a listener to actually understand the point so that you don’t be thinking another thing while the speaker is saying another thing. It will help you as a listener to give a piece of valuable advice that really affects the situation at hand.
2. Keep an Eye Contact
There is no need looking around or strolling through your phone while someone is speaking with you tangibly. Listening is not just saying, ‘I am hearing you’. It requires body language too, like maintaining eye contact with the speaker. However, maintaining eye contact does not mean staring at the person as if he stole your gold wristwatch, lol. Your eye contact must go with the need of the person. If the speaker is anxious, cut down of direct stare in their faces and focus on other listening posture that will make a shy person more comfortable.
3. Maintain an Appropriate Posture
As a listener, you have to pay attention to the way you sit or stand. There are some postures that indicate that you are impatient with the speaker. Such postures like, folding your arm and taping your feet, or even a constant look on your cell phone while a conversation is going on. Another wrong way is flushing your sit in a cushion and sitting like the speaker is giving you’re a drowsing pill. Such postures do not encourage communication. A good listener should sit or stand in an open posture, keeping the body lose in such a way that indicates interest and readiness in the communication that is going on.
4. Avoid Closed Question
You know all those kind of questions that will put someone in a bracket of either saying yes or no, those are to be avoided. They don’t promote extensive response and it depicts a picture that you need specific information from the speaker.
Instead of closed questions, ask an open question that will enable the speaker to freely pour out what is in his/her heart. Instead of asking, ‘I hope you had a nice day?’ ask, ‘how was your day?’ The former is a closed question, while the latter is an open question.
5. Adopt the Mirroring Method.
This is the act of maintaining the same posture with the speaker. If the speaker sits with legs crossed, you can cross yours too. However, this must be done with caution. You don’t have to make the speaker feel weird by your mimicry. The mirror method works at the level of subconscious, it is an effective interpersonal skill that works out to show you are empathizing with the speaker. As I said, it has to be done with smartness, not just by copying the speaker and making the person feel uncomfortable.
6. Don’t Forget too Soon
No speaker will want to repeat a story again and again. It will mean that you have not been listing over time. Thus, it is good to remember something of the past conversation you heard with the speaker. It makes the speaker feels that indeed you were attentive to that conversation. Small things like remembering that the speaker does not like a particular food or sound will make him/her feel that you have been very attentive and concerned about them.
7. Nodding Helps
Just like eye contact, nodding is another good way of showing that you are attentive. You add a smile to it, depending on the mood of the conversation. However, care must be taken to ensure that you do not overdo this. You do not keep nodding at each point in time or keep smiling like the speaker is an entertainer. Always remember to keep this method at a balance.
8. Understanding is the basic
The essence of listening is to comprehend. It is not just about pretending that you are listening. It is about really listening and understanding the points made by the speaker. Bad listeners would just keep calm, waiting for the speaker to finish so that they say what they have kept in mind since, and not a response coming from the speaker’s points. Some listeners even go to the extent of changing the entire topic to suit them so that they become the speakers themselves s and not the listeners. Such attitudes are poor ways of having a conversation. When you do not understand the speaker, then the communication is not a balanced one.
Listening is very essential in every communication, from family to State level. Therefore, people who enter into combination are to do that with genuine interest and curiosity in what the other has to say. It is not a time to come with preconceived ideas, or biased and prejudiced points of view, waiting to interject at each point. It is time to learn from the other person.