I know from personal experience the challenge of being a good listener. Here are some do nots to be a better listener:
- Don’t Speak. When you are trying to become a better listener, don’t speak while someone else is speaking. Let them completely say what they have to say and don’t interrupt them. It’s not only rude to interrupt, but you won’t capture the meaning of what they are saying.
- Don’t Wander. It’s easy for your mind to wander when others are speaking. Try to resist. Give the person your undivided attention. They will not only appreciate it, but you will save yourself some time by not having to ask them to repeat what they said. It’s a simple courtesy.
- Don’t Think. Try not to think about what you are going to respond while the other person is speaking. This takes a bit of skill to refrain yourself from doing. If you make an effort, you will find it becomes natural over time. Repeating what is being said may help reinforce the message, as well as prevent you from thinking about what you are going to say.
- Don’t React. People often have knee-jerk reactions when someone says something unexpected. Try to let it all sink in before reacting in any way. Make sure you understand what the person is saying and ask questions if you don’t. After you have an understanding, you can react as you see fit.
- Don’t Be Closed-Minded. You will speak to plenty of people who don’t hold the same beliefs as you. There are reasons they feel the way they do. When listening, you should try to keep an open mind. You don’t have to agree with everything someone else is saying. But, you should at least respect the fact that others have differing opinions. If everyone thought in the same way, life would get pretty dull.
- Don’t Miss an Opportunity to Learn. The people you are talking to are going to have information that you don’t. When you let them speak and open your mind, you may find that you can learn that information. And, you will learn it much quicker if you are open to what they say and listen. Approach your listening with that goal in mind, i.e., to learn something new. You never know what you are going to learn from someone else.
- Don’t Miss Out on Building a Relationship. Listening builds relationships. When people find out you are a strong listener, they will approach you more often. They will also let others know that you listen well, thus expanding your network and relationships. The more people you have in your network, the more ability you have to connect and learn.
Here are some additional tips to be a better listener:
- The next person you speak to, repeat what they have said. This may seem uncomfortable at first, but when you find they are receptive to it, you will see it’s easy to do. You can use leading phrases like, “you feel that…,” or “what I think you’re saying is…,” etc. Then, follow those leading phrases with what they say. If you notice they are getting annoyed with this type of interaction, you can back off a bit.
- Strike up a conversation with one or two people every month. This may require you to break out of your comfort zone. It becomes easier with practice.
Can you relate to any of the do nots that I had mentioned? Do you have any other suggestions to become a better listener? I’m interested in any thoughts or comments that you have.
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