One of the greatest skills to have is to be a good listener. It’s easy to think that listening is just a skill that comes naturally and yet it really is something that takes practice to get better at. This type of skill takes time and effort since it’s easier to hear than listen. When it comes to truly listening to someone, there are some easy tips to consider that can help you grow into becoming a better active listener. Here are a few tips to consider and why they will be helpful to you:
- Pause your Thoughts
This tip may seem odd, but the intentions of your actions really go a long way with this one. Just taking a moment to hold that thought of, “What am I cooking for dinner tomorrow?” or “What am I forgetting to do today?” helps narrow your focus. You have an easier time giving your whole attention to someone when you get rid of all your distractions.
- Watch your Nonverbal Cues
Nonverbal cues can make or break a conversation and can be easily overlooked. Eye contact shows where your attention is focused and that you aren’t wandering away from the conversation. Keeping your arms and stance open shows you aren’t closed off to them and can give them a sense of your openness to what is being discussed. Meeting their level means if one person is sitting down, both should be sitting down for the conversation. If someone is trying to open up to you and they are sitting, they may feel they can’t completely open up to you because you are in a position of power standing over them.
- Ask Open-Ended Questions
When listening to what someone is telling you, wait until they are finished talking before forming your response back to them. Asking open-ended questions other than simply yes or no questions allows you to get more information from the conversation. Open-ended questions commonly start with words like why and how. Allow yourself time to process what they are telling you before you respond to them. Be thoughtful and insightful, instead of judgmental.
These tips can help you hone in on your listening skills and grow in your interpersonal skills as well. Active listening can be applied to any situation whether at your job, in your household, or just having a conversation with a friend or family member. Next time someone confides in you, take these tips and apply them to your conversation.