As promised last week, today we talk about how we can become better listeners.Listening isn’t an act of hearing and discarding. Listening requires an active intake of information and an intentional attempt to understand that information. Good listening doesn’t end with a passive ‘okay’. It carries forward new ideas, better understanding, clearer perceptions and a better grasp on what one is saying and what one means by what they say. But listening isn’t an inherent quality, it’s a practised skill. One can learn to be a better listener. Becoming a better listner enables you to be a better communicator and a better thinker. So how does one become a better listener? Well, one must be present, be willing to hear rather than talk, must embrace the silences, be patient, be empathetic and be open.
- Be Present – Listening to someone requires you to attend to them and to maintain your focus on them. Be present in the conversation, don’t get distracted, don’t get on your phone, don’t message. Instead, take some time out of your day and just focus your attention on the person in front. Be present in the conversation.
- Hear More – Whenever we are in a conversation, many times, we are tempted to tell our own stories. We rarely wait for the person to finish their story before we jump in and tell our tale. But to be an effective listener, you must hear what the other person is saying without preparing an answer. If your mind is too busy preparing an answer then you aren’t truly listening. So, discard all thoughts and focus only on listening, not telling.
- Embrace the Silences – A lot of us are uncomfortable with silences. We regard them as a sign of a faltering conversation or as an awkward disruption. When in reality, silences can really help strengthen a relationship and give people time to gather their thoughts. Silence can deepen the conversation just by virtue of its being. So embrace the silence in a conversation.
- Be Patient – Listening isn’t about just hearing someone throw words at you. Listening is about giving another person time to reflect their thoughts and emotions and then convey them to you. Patience is a virtue that transcends cultures and conveys the fact that you are willing to wait for the person to take their time. SO be patient.
- Be Empathetic – Listening without emotion is futile. But listening with judgement is harmful. When listening to someone open up their heart to you, try to feel how they feel. Obviously, you won’t be able to feel exactly as the person in front feels, however, at least, try to feel what the person might be feeling. You need not agree with the person’s actions or their views but try to understand their emotions.
- Be Open – No matter how well you know a person, they may have secrets or thoughts that you know nothing of. Whenever you listen to someone be open to new thoughts, new perspectives and new ideas. Remember – no matter how long or how deeply we know someone, we may never truly know who they are and how they feel. So be open to whatever they may have to say.
Listening may seem daunting, but as we spoke earlier, The Art of Listening is as necessary as a breath of air.