Do you notice that these days you are always busy with yourself and talk very little to your loved ones? Even when they come to speak, you lose focus again and again. Sometimes it also happens that someone comes to talk to you, but you are thinking about something else or browsing Facebook with your smartphone in hand and aren’t listening to him carefully. As a result, the speaker feels insulted and unimportant to you and loses interest in talking and sharing feelings with you. Thus, you are becoming more lonely and friendless.
It’s not just you; It is all of us. We are becoming more self-centered nowadays. The wide spread of social media and addiction to games, movies, songs, etc. are making us self-centered, unsociable, and careless.
Listening and talking are the oldest and main ways of human-to-human communication. It is the foundation of every relationship we have. If we don’t listen to each other, our relationships weaken and misunderstandings increase.
So listening is important. To gain success in every sector of life, you must be an effective listener. You have to listen more than you talk. American financier and statesman Bernard Baruch said,
Most of the successful people I’ve known are the ones who do more listening than talking.Bernard Baruch
Without being an effective listener, you cannot be a successful student, a successful employee, a successful boss or leader, or even a good spouse, or a good friend.
Here, I will discuss how to be effective listener. Following proper tips and tricks constantly, the habit of effective listening can be developed.
What Is Effective Listening?
Effective listening means actively taking in the information that is being conveyed to you by a speaker, demonstrating your interest and attentiveness, and responding to the speaker so that he or she is aware that the message was understood.
It is not only about listening and understanding of the listener, but also about making the speaker feel that the listener has heard, understood, and taken seriously what he or she has to say.
Speaker satisfaction is important. Sometimes just listening makes people happy. He doesn’t want or expect anything from what he says, he just wants someone to listen to him. Famous author Bryant McGill said,
One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.Bryant McGill
4 Steps To Start Listening Effectively
To start listening effectively, you have to prepare yourself first. Follow these steps:
1. Stop Doing What You Are Doing
When someone comes to talk, you might be sitting in front of your PC, reading a book, playing mobile games, or doing something else. For effective listening, stop what you are doing. Put away the mobile, turn away from the PC, close the book and free yourself completely from other tasks.
You might think that you can understand the speaker very well by working on a PC or looking at a mobile phone. Believe me, practically it will not be like that. You lose focus very quickly. If you keep the mobile in your hand, then you will not even realize when you will get busy with the mobile in the middle of the conversation.
2. Clear Your Mind
After being outwardly free, be mentally free too. Come out mentally from the work you were doing. Put all other thoughts out of your head and focus on the speaker.
3. Face The Speaker, And Maintain Eye Contact
Face the speaker. Maintain eye contact with him. That is, look directly into the speaker’s eyes and exchange glances with him.
Eye contact is an essential part of communication. It helps exchange feelings and understand each other. Some studies have shown that eye contact activates the limbic mirror system. This means that when you make eye contact with someone, the same neurons activating in their brain will also activate in yours.
4. Be Attentive And Relaxed
Pay attention to the speaker, but don’t get overexcited. Stay relaxed. Excitement and anxiety prevent proper understanding. Welcome the speaker with a relaxed and friendly smile.
It will inspire the speaker and give him the courage to express himself to you without hesitation. He can open up to you.
7 Tips To Keep In Mind While Listening
1. Look At The Speaker, Observe His Body Language
Keep an eye on the speaker’s body language. A lot is revealed from his tone, facial expressions, hand movements, etc. His anger, irritation, frustration, restlessness, sadness, and joy can be understood by looking at him. They help in understanding the essence and real meaning of his words.
Many times people say one thing but don’t mean it. Also, one saying has many meanings. You can understand people’s right feelings and the right meaning of their words from nonverbal cues. Otherwise, you may misunderstand them. So looking at the speaker and observing his body language is an essential part of effective listening.
Famous business leader and author Graham Speechley said,
Listen with your eyes as well as your ears.Graham Speechley
2. Be Responsive, Not Stolid
Show through your body language that you are listening to the speaker carefully. Respond positively to his words. Laugh at his laughter and express your sympathy and sorrow when he talks about his sufferings. Be amazed at the amazing news. These are part of effective listening.
If you just listen silently, the speaker may think that you are not listening carefully, not paying attention, or not giving him importance, and lose the motivation to speak.
3. Ask Relevant Questions
Ask small questions related to what the speaker said. Ask for more details if something is unclear. This will show your interest and inspire the speaker to speak.
4. Don’t Interrupt, Let The Speaker Finish First
Let the speaker speak freely. Listen to what he has to say completely and then say yours. Avoid interrupting mid-speech. It appears as your arrogance and gives the impression that you value yourself more than others.
Repeated interruptions can cause a speaker to lose interest in continuing the conversation or he may forget many important points or get into new contexts. These shouldn’t be.
It may be that you understand what he is trying to say, but brace yourself for a moment. Let him finish as he wants to it.
5. Don’t Be Too Eager To Give Your Opinion
If you have a habit of giving quick feedback, slow yourself down. Achieve the quality of patiently listening to people. It is a precious quality and can be achieved through pursuit and practice.
Don’t start thinking about the answer while listening. It will deter you from proper understanding. Keep your full attention on the speaker.
6. Be Open Minded
Start listening with a free and open mind. Avoid advanced critical mood. Don’t start judging before hearing the whole thing.
Avoid justifying your thoughts or ideas with the speaker’s words.
7. Summarize your understanding
After the speaker has finished, summarize your understanding and ask him if you understood correctly. This will assure the speaker that you got his point. You can be sure too. Misunderstandings will also be cleared up.
When To Start Answering: 3 Amazing Tips To Answer Nicely
The moment you realize that the speaker has finished and wants to hear something from you, it is time for you to speak. But keep in mind…
1. Think About What To Say
Think about what you are going to say before you start speaking. Take time to think. Don’t start speaking and thinking at the same time.
2. Speak As Your Suggestions And Opinions
Speak as your own opinion and accept the possibility that there are other opinions too. It shows your modesty and gentleness. Use phrases like ‘in my opinion ‘in my point of view’ ‘I think’ etc.
3. Summarize Your Answer
At the end of the answer, repeat what you said briefly; in one sentence or points. And assure the listener’s understanding by questioning. Clear up misunderstandings if any.
FAQs On How To Be Effective Listener
Why is effective listening important?
Your interpersonal skills will improve if you listen effectively. Social and workplace relationships would be better and the possibility of misunderstandings will decrease. You can gain people’s trust and can easily influence them. Effective listening will take you to new heights as a person.
What are 5 things a good listener does?
A good listener does 5 things:
- Face the speaker.
- Maintain eye contact.
- Avoid interrupting.
- Respond positively.
- Ask relevant questions.
What are 3 qualities of an effective listener?
The top 3 qualities of an effective listener are:
- Patience; He listens with patience.
- Modesty; He respects others.
- Sincerity; He is sincere in his work and relationships.
Reading this article, hope you will understand how to be an effective listener. Being effective listener makes you an empathetic, wiser, and better person. A man’s silence is the manifestation of his wisdom, not his words. The more silent you can be, the more wisdom you gain as famous columnist Doug Larson said, “Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you’d have preferred to talk.”