One of the most important skills necessary to thrive in any aspect of life is to be a good listener. But what does it mean to be a “better” listener and how can you use this skill to find success?
I grew up in a diverse cultural background where I learned early on that every person has their own way of communicating, both verbally and physically. Reflecting on my experiences and what I’ve seen when training my team, I’ve shared the following insight on how to become a better and more inquisitive listener.
Understanding Both Verbal And Physical Communication
The best piece of advice I can give to help someone become a more effective listener is to understand that there are many different types of communication styles and that the background of the person you are speaking with may be different from your own. Keep in mind that this includes more than just the words a person is speaking—it’s what they aren’t saying too. It’s necessary to pay attention to things like tone, facial expressions, gestures, and posture to fully interpret what a person is saying and how they’re feeling.
Don’t Make Assumptions
If you knew what people were thinking before they said it, there would be no need for communication at all. While once you build relationships with the people around you and can easily predict what they might say in a situation, try to avoid any preconceived notions so you can actually hear what the person is saying. Also, if you aren’t exactly sure about what someone is saying, ask them. It’s better to inquire and let them either confirm or correct what you were thinking.
Building Relationships With People You Frequently Talk And Work With
- It’s necessary to pay attention to things like tone, facial expressions, gestures, and posture to fully interpret what a person is saying and how they’re feeling
Building meaningful relationships with those around you will help you get a grasp on their communication styles and will also help create a positive culture. Developing this rapport will not only allow you to learn their approach to communication, but it will also make the communication process more efficient.
At times, you may encounter individuals who are very soft spoken and others who are loud and passionate in their delivery. You will certainly meet people who like to communicate with their hands and make a lot of movements, some that are very direct, and others who are verbose and may take longer to articulate their message. Being patient and focusing on the speaker will allow you to better understand the point they’re trying to make. While it may be easy to let your mind wander when you’re not actively participating in a conversation or presentation, make sure you’re constantly checking in with yourself to make sure you’re paying attention. This practice will ensure you don’t miss any information or cause redundancies later on.
Listening To A Complete Message Or Thought
Regardless of the speaker’s approach, allow them to completely finish their thoughts before responding. Interrupting could cause them to lose focus and forget important details. Listening to their complete thought will also allow you to digest the entirety of what they’re saying—instead of in fragments. Additionally, if you’re speaking about a subject that’s sensitive to you, remember not to make assumptions and try not to overreact or get easily offended. Listen, comprehend, and respond in a calm manner.
Asking Questions To Get The Best Response
If you don’t understand something that was said, you should never leave a conversation with lingering questions. In order to get the best response, be direct with your language and don’t be afraid to reshape your question if their answer still doesn’t make sense. Remember, no question is a bad question! It’s better to get a clear understanding of the situation now rather than have to revisit the topic later.
After a conversation, meeting or presentation is over, try recapping the conversation either verbally or in writing. This is a great way to ensure that you not only listened but understood the message correctly. It also gives the person or group you are speaking with the opportunity to make sure you are all on the same page.