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How to be a great listener


1st Jan 2015 Dating & Relationships

How to be a great listener

When you are communicating, you spend nearly 60% of your time listening to other people, but most people only retain 25% of what they hear. So how can you listen more and become the person people want to talk to?

Be more present

Do you find yourself looking at your phone or following a TV show during a conversation with a family member or a friend? These little distractions can have much bigger consequences than you might think and you should try to limit them completely.

When you are listening to someone, put everything else aside and give your full attention to the person. Make sure you keep eye contact to the person at all times and don’t turn your back to the person. You might think you are listening, even if you aren’t looking at the person, but the chances are your attention is more divided.

Empathise with the person

When you are listening to another person, try to think what they might be feeling or going through at that very moment. Empathy towards other people can be improved by imagining yourself in different situations, as well as by learning more about people and different cultures.

Don’t start listening to someone with a preconceived idea of what the person should do or say. Before you give your own opinion, try to look at the situation from the person’s angle and see what you can learn from the discussion.

Ask more questions

Being a good listener doesn’t just mean that you sit quietly and let the other person speak, you also need to ask meaningful questions. The more interested you are in what the person is saying, the better the conversation will be.

Try find an answer to questions “why” and “what”. Don’t be afraid to ask for a clarification because misunderstandings can harm the conversation. The key is to allow questions to take the conversation forward and to leave enough room for the person to continue talking – you don’t want to hurry or pressure the person into saying anything.

Train your emotional intelligence

The way you are able to manage your own emotions, your emotional intelligence, influences your ability to listen to other people and the good news is that you can train it. Learn to understand your own emotions, both the negative and positive feelings and be aware of your reactions when you are listening to someone.

Emotional intelligence is especially important when you are listening to a critique. You can’t let your emotions rule too much and even when you get emotional, you need to understand why you are feeling the way you are.

Make note of the conversation

When you are finished with the discussion, don’t move immediately on to the next thing. Make an internal note of the conversation, perhaps even list the key points as you are developing your listening skills. You want to think about the key message of the discussion, analyse what you and the other person got out of the discussion and how you can perhaps return to the points later.

This not only helps you remember the discussion longer, giving you more empathy and compassion, but it also can teach you a lot about yourself and help you further improve your listening as well as communication skills as a whole.