Healthy relationships are developed through our ability to communicate. Strengthening your communication skills will help you create a deeper connection with those around you. To do so, learning how to become an attentive listener is a must.
The following steps will help you develop the listening skills you need to create relationships that are thriving instead of just surviving.
A good listener does not have an agenda.
One mistake often made during a conversation is the offering of advice. Understandably, many believe that when someone tells us their problems, they are looking to us for help.
However, some people are auditory problem solvers, which means they simply need to talk out their struggles. They are not looking for you to solve their problems. They are looking for you to listen while they talk out loud to find the answer for themselves.
Here are some helpful things to be aware of when you're in a conversation with an auditory processor:
• Remind your-self all they need you to do is listen to them.
• Don't try and fill the conversation if there is a long silence.
• Be patient with them as they are processing what they are saying.
However, well-meaning you think your advice may be, hold off on offering it until you are explicitly asked. People, in general, don't like being told what to do. And what worked for you in a similar situation may not work for them.
A good listener does not interrupt.
It has been said that we have two ears and one mouth for a reason, meaning we should spend twice as much time listening as we do talking.
Interrupting is much like the autocorrect feature on our phones. Have you ever been trying to type a message, and the autocorrect keeps interfering with what you are trying to type? It can be very frustrating. This is what happens when we interrupt someone. The person talking loses their train of thought and the opportunity to get the clarity they need.
When you have an urge to interrupt, remember this acronym: W.A.I.T. (“Why Am I Talking?)
Good listeners do not listen to win; they listen to learn.
If you are mentally collecting information on how you are right and the other person is wrong, and you are more focused on what you will say next to get your point of view across, then you are listening to win.
As a result, your response may not even be relevant to what the other person has just said because you have lost focus.
Instead of listening to win, listen to learn. When you are listening to learn, you are not defensive but genuinely interested and curious about what the other person is telling you. You are showing empathy and understanding.
If you are listening to win, you may win the conversation, but lose or damage the relationship.
When we listen to win, no one wins.
A good listener asks good questions.
Asking questions shows you have been listening.
It also shows the other person you want to help.
Asking open-ended questions that start with “why” or “how” keeps the conversation flowing, and at times the right question can help the other person obtain the clarity they are looking for.
A good listener listens to obtain clarity.
One way to obtain clarity and let the other person know you are listening is to repeat or paraphrase what they just said. You can use phrases like- “if I understand you” or “If I heard you right.”
By repeating back, what you thought you heard the other person feels understood and affirms to the listener that you were listening. It has the bonus effect of letting the other person listen to what they communicated to see if they are articulating themselves correctly.
A good listener does not judge or make assumptions.
When we are good listeners, we let the other person speak openly and fully. When we judge people and draw our assumptions about what they are doing, saying, or feeling, our judgment interferes with our ability to keep an open mindset, thereby interfering with our ability to listen.
The ability to listen is the foundation of all healthy communication. There is an art to it, but anyone can develop these skills with time persistence and patience.
See you next week,