5 Ways to Become a Better Listener
It may seem like second nature to listen, but for many, it’s not. Listening takes more than simply being there when someone else is speaking. It requires an attention span, a good memory, and real effort to absorb what someone else is saying. If you’d like to become a better listener, here are some habits that can help you improve your listening skills.
- Wait to speak until it’s your turn
We’re all guilty of wanting to speak before the other person has finished. However, wanting to speak before someone else has finished speaking makes us lose the information that is being conveyed by that person. If you’re only thinking about speaking, then you’re not actively listening. The next time you have the urge to speak before someone else finishes, remind yourself to continue listening, and let them finish.
- Ask a lot of questions
If you are listening with real intent, then you will naturally ask more questions. Asking questions ensures that you remain interested in what’s being said, are curious to learn more, and can help you to gain better clarity in a situation. It can also help to refocus the conversation and keep everyone on track if someone begins to get off-topic. Asking questions signal to another person that you’re actively listening, and can encourage the other party to speak more clearly.
- Repeat what you’ve heard
Interpretation is key in every conversation, and problems arise when there is a miscommunication between two or more people. The next time you are in conversation, make sure you clearly understand what the other person is saying. If you’re not certain whether you clearly understand what someone is trying to say, then repeat back what you’ve heard. This is another great way to get clarity, or simply solidify the idea in your mind. Sometimes committing a thought to memory is as easy as speaking it out loud.
- Take notes
If you’re able, taking notes while someone is speaking is a great tool to become a better listener. You don’t have to write down every word they say—in fact, this would be counter-productive. Simply jot down a few bullet points that you find important. Not every point will be memorable, so it’s a good idea to write down things you feel you may forget soon after the conversation.
- Reflect and follow up
After leaving the conversation, it’s a good idea to reflect on what was said and more importantly, what you learned. Write down anything else that was said, and then follow up with the person you were speaking with in order to reaffirm what was accomplished, decided, or debated in the conversation. Ask for clarity, prepare a follow-up question, or simply use the notes to help your brain focus on listening in future conversations. If you’ll be talking to this person again in the future, you can always use these notes to refer back to in order to refresh your mind.
For many people, being an active listener is harder than it seems. Being a good listener has many perks, and will certainly be helpful in many situations. Simply implement these strategies in your everyday life, and you’ll be a good listener in no time!