One of the key issues with bad communicators is they treat listening as simply a time to “tune out the other person and wait for your turn to talk.” Extroverts, especially, have this tendency of bull-dozing through a conversation with their thoughts, turning it into a one-sided speech. It’s no wonder why the other person may feel unappreciated or feel like the meeting was unproductive.
Active listening is a communication technique that involves actively engaging with the speaker, paying attention to their words and nonverbal cues, and providing feedback to show that you are listening and understanding. Active listening involves more than just hearing the words that the speaker is saying; it involves actively trying to understand their perspective, emotions, and needs, and responding in a way that shows empathy and support.
There are many benefits to using active listening, both for the listener and for the speaker. Some of the key benefits of active listening include:
- Improved communication and understanding: By actively listening to the speaker and providing feedback, you can help to ensure that the message is being understood correctly, and can clarify any misunderstandings or confusion. This can help to improve the overall quality of communication and understanding between the listener and the speaker.
- Increased trust and rapport: By showing empathy and support through active listening, you can build trust and rapport with the speaker. This can help to create a more positive and productive relationship, and can make it easier to have difficult or sensitive conversations.
- Enhanced problem-solving and decision-making: By actively listening to the speaker and trying to understand their perspective, you can gain valuable insights and information that can help to inform problem-solving and decision-making. This can help to make better decisions and to find solutions that are more effective and satisfying.
- Improved conflict resolution: By using active listening to understand the speaker’s perspective and emotions, you can respond in a way that helps to diffuse conflict and to find mutually beneficial solutions. This can help to resolve conflicts more effectively and to avoid escalation.
Overall, active listening is a valuable communication skill that can help to improve communication, build trust and rapport, enhance problem-solving and decision-making, and improve conflict resolution. By using active listening, you can become a better listener and a more effective communicator.
Here are some tips for improving your active listening skills:
- First, seek to understand before trying to be understood.
- Pay attention: Focus your attention on the speaker and what they are saying, and avoid distractions such as checking your phone or multitasking.
- Show interest: Show that you are interested in what the speaker is saying by maintaining eye contact, nodding your head, and using other nonverbal cues to indicate that you are listening.
- Listen for the meaning: Try to understand the speaker’s perspective, emotions, and needs, and listen for the underlying meaning of their words, rather than just the words themselves.
- Ask questions: Ask clarifying questions to help you understand the speaker better, and to confirm that you are understanding them correctly.
- Provide feedback: Provide feedback to show that you are listening and understanding, such as summarizing the key points that the speaker is making, or paraphrasing what they have said.
- Use signs of active listening, like repeating key words or nodding and making intonations at key moments.
- Practice: Practice active listening regularly, in different situations and with different people, to develop your skills and to become more comfortable with the technique.
By following these tips, you can improve your active listening skills and become a better listener and a more effective communicator. This can benefit your relationships and your overall success, and can help you to better understand and connect with others.