Better Listen

Better_ListenListening may seem like an easy task. But really, we meet boring speakers more often than we meet interesting ones. However, we are obliged to listen on for the sake of work or just because it is only polite to do so. Regardless, listening is an invaluable communication skill we all ought to learn, if not master.

1. Get into the Right Posture

Your body language will affect your mental behaviour – lean forward and you automatically listen more intently to the speaker. Nodding periodically also reflects attention paid. On the other hand, slouch on a soft sofa and you immediately lose focus and may even fall asleep.

2. Remove Distractions

If you may control your settings such as in your office, always close the door and take the phone off the ringer. Also, if you have a secretary, let him or her know that you do not want to be disturbed. If you are in a setting you cannot control such as at a coffee place with a client, you will want to put your handphone to silent – possibly even have the vibration mode switched off. In this way, we may really give the other party of 100% attention.

3. Ask Questions

Making the effort to ask questions help you focus on the issue at hand rather than how boring someone is putting it across. Asking questions is also especially useful in times of awkward pauses. Not only you will do the speaker and the audience a service by deepening everyone's understanding of the topic, you will gain knowledge yourself and keep yourself engaged.

4. Repeat Key Points

Other than asking questions, one other good way to make the other party know that you are listening is to repeat the key points they mentioned. Not only will this help you retain important or noteworthy information, you demonstrate clearly that you are paying close attention to the other party.

5. Do not Interrupt

I personally find this one a tough one. Sometimes I feel the need to interrupt someone with my comments because I think I might forget what I wanted to say by the time he or she is done. Regardless, it is rude to interrupt especially when that person is passionately sharing his or her experience. If you really have to interrupt, excuse yourself and make sure your comment is a valid one. In fact, I often leave a pause after someone speaks – just in case, he or she has something to add on.

6. Avoid Drifting Off

If you have thoughts arising from the conversation that need to be sorted out, politely excuse yourself to the washroom and write it down to reflect later instead of dazing off as your friend moves on to a new topic.

7. Make Taking it Slow a Habit

Set aside some time every day to focus on a single activity. Besides training you to consciously ignore distractions, this habit helps you relax too. You may try activities such as reading a book with your handphone switched off, watching a movie or simply have a slow meal with your partner. Remember, practice always makes perfect and, if you can start taking things slow, you tend to be less impatient, taking the time to listen better.

8. Listen

Sounds dumb but to be a good listener, you really have listen! Some people may very well look like they are listening but when they are questioned or when they make comments, it is very obvious that they have not been doing so. If you are taking the time to read this article, you most likely believe in the benefits of listening – so why not take action today? Listen.

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