To really listen is one of the most important skills you will have to learn for your relationships and if you want to get along with others easily and for people to easily like you.
When you improve your ability to listen effectively, you get better productively in sales, negotiations, deals and you become more of an influencer and a motivator.
You also avoid arguments, rage, fists, misunderstandings in your relationships.
When you truly listen, your self awareness improves.
Learning how to really listen is not just for counselors, psychologists, pastors, communicators, salesmen, motivators, teachers but for everyone as long as you deal with people everyday.
According to research, we forget 25-50% of what we hear when someone is talking.
For instance, you may really want to listen but sometimes you are not really listening.
You may be trying to listen to respond, to criticize, to defend, to teach, to probe, to judge, to advice, to correct.
Are these wrong? No really. But that’s a weaker form of listening because it is not complete and effective.
How then can we truly listen?
We do this by learning how to listen actively.
Some call it emphatic listening.
True or Active listening can be described as the connection between a soul (mind) with another.
It’s the meeting of the minds.
Active Listening is the art or technique of listening with the desire to understand and not to respond.
It’s a reflective type of listening. It’s paying attention with empathy, compassion and insight.
Here you listen for meaning, feeling, pictures, clarity, insight and to absorb, to understand. Who? the other person.
The most sincere form of flattery is when you listen to understand not to respond.
Imagine someone drowning inside water and you rescued that person to receive oxygen, that’s what happens when you actively listen.
You give the person oxygen.
When you truly and actively listen, you are not just waiting for the other person to be through with the talking but you really want to absorb every details of the talk.
When we actively listen to people, we get to know their perspective, we assume we are in their shoes and we try to find our how they really feel.
We are polite and not disruptive in our conversations with them.
It’s a technique where we show our intent of not responding but understanding.
How then can we learn the art of Active Listening?
1. Maintain an eye contact and watch Out silent body Cues.
Pay rapt attention.
What the mind tries to hide, the body reveals. Be sensitive to the other person.
Keep your phones. Stop the music. Don’t be distracted.
Maintain focus. But be natural, don’t look weird. Let your focus be 60%-70%.
Look at the face, the gestures, the hands, the feet.
Do you notice those cues?
They all speak volumes of words that may not be spoken out.
What do you do with those cues? You decode it.
When you observe the body gestures, you respond in a way that typifies your sensitivity and show that you really care about them.
Words like : “You don’t seem well, Is there anything I can do for you?”
“Are you sure you are alright?”
They may at first say nothing, but that’s fine.
But you have showed that you care and have feelings too.
When people see that you listening actively,they will respond.
2. Listen To The Tone, The Pitch, The Pauses.
What do you do with that? You reflect on them.
Use the tone to intuit, you listen with your heart.
Try to feel the words. Use starters like these: “Wow!”, “really?”, “Hmmmn”,“Oh , dear!”,
“I am imagining how you must have felt”
Also, try to understand when a logical question diverted to an emotional one and apply those starters. Never answer emotional questions.
3. Clarify By Paraphrasing Someone’s Thoughts.
When listening to someone, you paraphrase what the person has said to make the person know you’ve heard and are listening to what he or she is saying.
Words like “Do you mean… ?”, “If I got you correctly,… ” will stimulate effective dialogue.
Also, nod to some statements made to show you are listening as you paraphrase. It doesn’t mean you agree. It means you are actively and truly listening.
4. Follow Emotional Questions With Empathy.
Don’t be tempted to probe, investigate, conclude or criticize.
Beyond the words that are spoken to us, some are spoken out of depression, love, excitement, joy, disgust, sadness, gloom, anger, fear or other forms of emotions.
It’s best we don’t reply emotional questions at all.
In these moments, you have to listen with your soul.
You can find more on how to follow emotional questions with empathy here.
This can also be applied to someone who is grieving.
5. Ask Open Ended Questions.
When Actively listening to someone, you ask open ended questions that makes the person open up.
These are questions that doesn’t give a No or Yes response.
But gives the person room to elaborate his or her conversation.
6. Try to Understand First.
Don’t respond until you have truly understood.
It takes time for someone to open up unless they feel safe with you and have built trust.
once you have actively listened to them, you will be amazed how deep they can reveal to you.
Once the person is done talking. Give a pause that seems like you were lost in your thoughts. Of course, you should be.
Use that awkward moment to carefully rephrase how your response should be.
Remember, don’t judge, defend, correct, criticize, try to advice, probe but… Ask questions that suggests answers. 👇
7. Ask Reflective Questions
Ask reflective questions when the conversation becomes logical.
let the other person feel or think he or she has the answers within himself or herself because he or she sure does.
So when they ask for your opinion, don’t be tempted to make yourself heard.
Project the person’s inner voice by asking reflective questions and let them answer it.
Also, most people don’t need advice or much talk but a heart that can truly emphatically listen because they already know the answers.
Don’t respond to emotional questions except it becomes logical.
And respond the moment you feel your desire to understand has outweighed your desire to respond.
Allow them to interrupt you even as you ask them those reflective questions.
It’s a skill that you can learn. And with practice you get better.
People may forget what you said or what you did but will never forget how you made the feel.
You want to get many friends and associates?
Practice Active Listening.
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