How to become a better active listener

by Alex Chris on January 24, 2013 · 1 comment

Your body may be present in a conversation… but the mind sometimes ‘gets carried away’! How many times have you nodded your head showing that you agree, without listening to what the other person is saying to you? A good listener is also quite often a good friend, a respected colleague or an understanding husband or wife.

There are many examples of people who have solved dozens of arguments in their lives, only because they pay attention to the true meaning of the words and because they follow the ‘active listening’ strategy.

One such skill does not go unnoticed by people. However, everyone can learn how to become a better active listener by following the simple guidelines explained below.

Use your body language

Even a simple head nod… can encourage someone to continue discussing with you! If you adopt some postures and body gestures, you can easily make the other person feel more relaxed, more acceptable.

Do not neglect to look the person you are talking to in the eyes, but at the same time you should reflect friendliness and receptivity. For example, when you are staring at someone, this could be easily interpreted as a bad criticism.

Do not let your attention get distracted by…

…your cell phone, the internet or your laptop! When someone is trying to talk to you, you should give them your utmost attention. You may not realize it, but you are definitely doing it, especially in short and quick conversations of your daily life.

However, if the person who is talking to you wants to share something important or private with you, then stop what you are doing and show them some respect. If you turn off your cell phone or close momentarily the lid of your laptop, you will turn your eyes and body towards them, and as a result you will be able to listen to them better.

Search for the deeper meaning

We often stay on the surface of the words told by someone and we miss the deeper meaning of the conversation. The truth lies in that a phrase does not always represent the intentions of the other person.

It is wise to search for the meaning beneath the words and observe their facial expressions, the tone of their voice or their body language. What do you think the other person is actually thinking about? Observe their general behavior and do not rush into any arguments…

Do not get suddenly “lost” in your own thoughts

Many people due to their worries or obligations are absorbed in their thoughts without paying attention to the person who is talking to them. They may be talking but their mind is somewhere else. However, this is something that does not allow you to pay attention to the other person.

It would be better to clear your mind from any other thought and give all of your attention to the person talking to you. Some use meditation as a means to ‘clear’ their mind from any irrelevant thought or stress. So, let’s not constantly think about the past or the future, but why not give the present a chance!

Provide your feedback

Let the other person know where you stand initially and later you can share any relevant information, observations and experiences of yours. You should in no way move to the so called ‘sermon’ by saying: “You must…”.

This, however, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t give advice, but do so taking into consideration who is the person you are talking to. A conversation between two friends is in no way similar to that of an employer – employee.

Ask questions

Clarifications make you clearly comprehend the message the speaker is supporting. Besides that, the questions or the confirmations within a conversation can offer you more information.

You can say: “So, this is the case, isn’t it?” and expect to get a simple “yes” or “no” answer. At the same time, you can form a more complete opinion about the other and help them ‘open up’ more to you. This way, you will be able to create more substantial relationships…

Repeat and summarize what the other person is saying!

During a conversation, it is useful to summarize and restate the main points. Something like that would encourage the speaker to make more comments and it will show your interest towards them. It will be obvious that you have been listening to everything they had been talking about all this time.

So, you might avoid any potential misinterpretations as well. In the meantime, try using friendly phrases such as: “Let’s talk about this” or “Don’t worry about that” and avoid any judgmental expressions like “Are you sure?”, “Get some sleep and you will feel better tomorrow”…

Wait until the other person finishes their argument

Since we were kids, we have been listening to this expression: “Don’t interrupt others when they’re talking!”. However, even though most of us consider such an advice a cliché… in reality we tend to forget it.

Specifically, we are often overwhelmed by our feeling of being right or by our need to immediately support our opinion that we don’t wait for the speaker to finish what they are saying. This attitude leads us to think only about our arguments. Every person needs to express themselves…give them the time they deserve…

How to become a better active listener by

Alex Chris
About the author

Alex is editor-in-chief of manageyourlifenow.com. You can connect with him on Facebook, Twitter and Google+. You can also contact Alex for any comments or suggestions about the web site.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

James February 13, 2013

Good article.
I use many times point 1, 5, 6 and 7 and it helps me a lot. As for me I have difficulty to screen the body language for the other person, it may distract me and make me forget some idea.

Reply

Leave a Comment


− one = 3