Listening seems like a simple process and yet so many of us are more eager to talk than to listen. Someone once said we were given two ears and one mouth for a reason. What better gift could you give to your family, friends, peers and bosses than to listen to them so that they feel really heard? Here are some tips:
1. Stay present Dont let your mind wander. Many are composing a response before the speaker has a chance to completely finish his/her thought.
2. Make eye contact Let the speaker see your interest by regularly making eye contact.
3. Ask questions for clarification This is not your time to respond. Get really clear about what is being said. If you dont understand, ask questions in an open non-charged manner.
4. Acknowledge feelings If the speaker is telling you something about his/her feelings, acknowledge them. You dont have to agree to show that you see the speaker is upset or happy about something.
5. Restate or paraphrase Make sure you are getting the information the speaker is presenting by periodically repeating what you hear in different words the speakers. Let me see if Ive got it so far?
6. Seek first to understand and then to be understood – Before you state your thoughts and ideas make sure you totally understand and acknowledge the speakers thoughts.
7. Give nonverbal feedback – While the speaker is speaking, be sure to smile, nod, frown, shrug your shoulders, or raise your eyebrows whatever is appropriate.
8. Be silent Dont be afraid of this. Periods of total quiet will allow you and the speaker to think about what was said. When you are sure the speaker has completed his/her thoughts on the subject it will be time for you to comment.
9. Take in all the information both verbal and nonverbal Focus on the meaning of what is being said and also what is not being said.
10. Get permission Sometimes people just want to be heard. At other times they are seeking advice. Give advice only when requested and only after the person has had a chance to give you the whole story. If you are not sure, ask if the person is looking for your input.
Author: Alvah Parker