How to Improve Listening Skills?
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Listening is one of the most important skills we have. It’s also one that can be improved easily, but to improve listening skills is not something everyone does naturally or instinctively. Many people are so used to not listening well that they don’t even realize how much they aren’t doing it well.
When we talk about listening skills, it’s important to keep in mind that it’s a two-way process since folks who have hearing loss or disability may find it difficult to communicate in certain ways. Thinking about the wants and circumstances of the other person is a sign of good communication abilities.
In addition to helping you comprehend and communicate better, listening may make talking to you more enjoyable for other people. If you want to improve your listening skills and become a better listener, then this article will show how.
What is Active Listening?
Active listening is a way of paying attention to what other people are saying and responding appropriately. It involves asking questions, showing that you are listening, and making eye contact with the speaker. Active listening can be called “empathetic” because it helps you understand how others feel. When someone shares their story with us, we should make sure that we understand them as much as possible by asking questions and showing our genuine interest in what they have said so far.
Obstacles to Good Listening
Distractions may be found everywhere, including smartphones, computers, road noise, television, radio, and more, making it challenging to listen intently. In addition, when we do listen, we tend to do it automatically, nodding and nodding while not absorbing what is being said. We could talk over the other person, try to control the discussion, or think about what we’re going to say next. When someone has a different opinion than we do, we might be ready to condemn them.
Self-interest keeps the speaker in the back of our minds while keeping our wants and ideas at the forefront. A self-centered attitude may be caused by prejudice, previous experiences, personal objectives, and negative self-talk.
Psychological obstacles to communication might include false assumptions, offering unsolicited advice or analysis, denial, and emotions of fear, indifference, envy, or defensiveness. Other factors include;
- Lack of attention
- Lack of concentration
- Lack of interest
- Lack of empathy
- Lack of respect, and/or lack of patience. (This can be a problem when you’re on the phone with someone who has a different agenda than yours.)
How to Listen Well and Improve Listening Skills
Listening is one of the most important skills you can develop. It’s also one of the hardest skills to master because listening well requires keeping your mind open and focused on what someone else is saying.
Listen with your eyes first: When someone talks, look at them and make eye contact—this shows that you’re interested in what they have to say. You should also listen carefully by following the person’s mouth movements (if possible). This will help you understand what they’re trying to say more clearly.
Repeat back what you heard: After hearing something or reading through a report, repeat back everything that has been said so far as if it were being said again in front of a class full of students who are trying their best not to laugh out loud while doing so. Don’t worry if this sounds silly when first practicing; over time practice will improve accuracy levels significantly since repetition helps train memory cells into forming stronger connections between neurons for those memories to become permanent memories rather than temporary ones which fade away quickly after being formed.”
Steps to Improve Listening Skills
Here are some steps to improve listening skills that you can apply.
1 – Make Eye Contact
In addition to being courteous, doing so will convey importance and value to the person you are listening to. The eyes are the mirror of the soul, reflecting everything that seems to be concealed while simultaneously reflecting the person gazing into them, as Paul Coehlo once remarked.
More than any other kind of body language, maintaining genuine eye contact (it’s not a staring contest) fosters trust. It is the secret to fostering feelings of admiration, curiosity, and respect.
2 – Create an Imagination
As you listen, visualize what the speaker is saying in your brain. Hold off on offering any comments until they have come to a logical conclusion about the argument they are making. If your mind begins to wander, pull it back to the speaker since they are the only thing in the room that matters.
3 – Listen While Demonstrating Empathy
The key to establishing rapport is demonstrating nonverbal empathy. It seems sensible that if someone is sharing a sad tale with you, you shouldn’t be beaming with glee in their direction instead paying attention to how they are expressing themselves. Is the individual angry? Express worry about it. Are they ecstatic because of some good news? Smiling over what has made them happy will demonstrate that you share their happiness. A successful show of empathy might be as simple as nodding or shaking one’s head. This all sounds pretty simple, yet expressing yourself in a deadpan way not only demonstrates a lack of emotional intelligence but also gives the impression that you were not paying attention to what was being said and are living in your world. Your reputation and personal brand may suffer as a result.
4 – Watch for Breaks
Whenever you feel the urge to speak out, such as when you want to clarify something that was spoken. Instead of interrupting, wait for a natural pause before doing so. When you interject during a speech, it seems as if you weren’t paying attention, to begin with.
5 – Pay Close Attention
Ever had a conversation with someone and then seen them checking their phone? What does it feel like to you? That’s bad, right? People often gaze down at their phones or computers in this day and age while someone else is speaking. If you catch yourself doing this, stop it right away, and attempt to hide your phone. You give off the impression that you don’t care! If at all possible, try to shut out any other sounds and distractions. It’s crucial to avoid becoming sidetracked by thoughts in your brain. Have you just realized that tomorrow is your mother’s birthday? To prevent daydreaming and giving the impression that you aren’t listening (since you probably won’t be listening anyhow), deal with it after the discussion.
6 – Body Language is Crucial
Always keep in mind that nonverbal communication is more significant than spoken communication. Be alert for any changes in attitude or expression. When attempting to demonstrate that you have been paying attention, ignoring body language might be a genuine problem. How often have you observed a couple having a “conversation” with one of them snappily responding, “Nothing, I’m OK,” while the other asks, “What’s wrong?” It is obvious that they are not “fine.” The listening partner catches this up, and the truth may then be revealed.
7 – Don’t Pass Judgment
When listening, it’s crucial not to make judgments out loud. Never make a judgment on what someone is saying before they have finished. Jumping to conclusions is a certain method to give the impression that you didn’t pay attention to what was being stated. Although it may need some discipline, in the long run, you will gain more empathy and comprehension.
8 – Don’t Interrupt
Although it sounds clear, we may all sometimes be guilty of doing this. But consider what it is showing. You are demonstrating your lack of concern and the importance you accord to what you have to say. Even if you are certain your answers are fantastic, hold off on offering them. The best course of action is to merely listen if you’re unsure when to talk. Chronic interrupters are notorious for being bad listeners (and in many cases, they are utterly resented).
9 – Provide Feedback
Speaking with empathy may make the other person in the room feel alone since it is accompanied by nonverbal cues. It is a signal that you have been paying attention. You may communicate that you have listened and understood by using phrases like “Oh, that must have been dreadful.” It’s often helpful to repeat what was stated to make instructions or desired results clear.
10 – Make Inquiries
An excellent technique to maintain a natural conversation is to ask questions. But make sure the inquiries are pertinent. How often have you been discussing a problem at work and you get a question about something completely unrelated? How did you feel about it? Did it seem like the other person was paying attention to you?
We hope this article helped you understand what listening skills are, and how to improve them. We know it can be hard, but with practice and patience, it will become easier for you. The best part about improving your listening skills is that they will help you in so many ways: better communication with others, more effective listening for yourself, and even better relationships with friends or family members. If we all put our best effort into being good listeners then there would be no need for talking at all.