Important Active Listening Skills and Techniques
Listening can seem simple. Some of us do not regard it as an actual tool. The direct act of listening can improve your relationships in the workplace, increase group productivity and even improve your mood. Although conflict emerging from communication is unavoidable, with ‘active listening,’ you can turn misunderstandings into constructive action. The secret to getting the most out of a conversation is active listening, and it has many personal and interpersonal benefits. Actively listening can be described as giving your complete, deliberate attention to what somebody says, rather than simply treating them as noise. Here are the 8 ways on how to be an active listener.
1. REMOVE DISTRACTION
To avoid getting distracted, make sure you are physically facing the speaker and try to make frequent eye contact with them while they are talking. Feel free to sit or stand comfortably but properly so that you can stay engaged. Put aside your mobile phone or any other pieces of electronics that could be a disturbance. Also, the speaker may appreciate the gesture you have made to show them that they have your undivided attention. Before you have a conversation, minimise the sounds in your environment that might be distracting or make it more difficult to hear. A noisy environment can create distractions for both listeners and speakers, resulting in possible conversation disruptions. Plan to hold important conversations in a place you know will be quiet, like your office or a private meeting room.
2. PAY ATTENTION
With a lot of non-verbal contact, it’s extremely important that you take up as much details as possible while showing them physically that you are engaging in the conversation. If you think you might be an excessive talker, try to practice self-control in conversation. Give space for other people to talk. Wait until they have finished speaking during every discussion before you respond as a sign of respect.
3. BE AWARE OF YOUR BODY LANGUAGE
It is very important to listen to people. It is just as important to ensure they know that you listen. Do not be tempted to check your text messages, check your watch or see how the other participants respond. Instead, concentrate on those who speak by turning your head and torso to face them directly and making eye contact. Another nonverbal way to demonstrate that you are engaged and pay attention is to lean forward.
4. ASK QUESTIONS
Of course, if you do not understand something, you should ask the speaker to explain it to you. But wait until the speaker pauses, rather than interrupt. Then say something like, “Back up for a second. I didn’t understand what you just said …” Asking questions is an efficient listening technique. Focusing on asking questions on the basis of what the speaker has already told you is designed to provide more information and clarity to you. The best questions are non-judgmental and flow directly from something the speaker has just said.
5. REPEAT WHAT YOU HEARD
Restating the main points that the speaker conveyed helps you understand its meaning completely. This will also give the speaker the opportunity to clarify vague information or to broaden their message. Besides, If the speaker agrees that what you have heard is what he or she intends to say, you can move on. If not, the speaker will have to further extend their statements until the listener fully understands. For example, “So, you believe the number priority is for us to build on our social media marketing efforts, would that be fair to say.”
6. KEEP AN OPEN MIND
Listen without judging the other person or mentally criticizing the things the speaker is telling you. If you are concerned by what the speaker says, you are entitled to your opinion, but there is a time and place for you to voice out your disagreement. You will have lost your credibility as a listener as soon as you indulge in the judgmental bemusements. Listen without making conclusions. Remember that the speaker uses language to represent the thoughts and feelings within his/her brain. You do not know what those thoughts and emotions are, so the only way you can find out is by listening to them.
7. RESPOND THOUGHTFULLY
When you have listened carefully and have summarised all the details to full comprehension, then you may formulate a response. Bear in mind, active listening exhibits signs emotional maturity. Personal attacks, put-downs, or provocation are never suitable responses for someone to share their feelings with you, whether you are agree with them or not. When you have thoughts that you would like to share that contradict what the other person has just said, do make your points in a polite, calm, and progressive manner.
8. CLOSE THE CONVERSATION WELL
Recap is really important. Try to make a good closure by restating the main points that were explored during the discussion as it reinforces and solidifies your understanding of the point of view of the other person. Remember what has been decided upon and determine when to take the action. Make sure everyone can be reachable because it allows both parties to be transparent about their shared duties moving forward.