By Ashleigh Barry
People often believe that just because you can keep up a conversation with someone that will make you a great listener when it more likely will make your listening skills suffer. This is because listening and conversing require two separate mindsets. Listening requires a thinking mindset that lets you take in the conversation and hear everything that is being said, when you are conversing or thinking about the next point you want to make in the conversation this requires a doing mindset this often leads to not thinking clearly about what is being said.
The structure of most conversations often leads people to believe that a conversation is a ping-pong match each person reacting to what the other person has said. This idea may be detrimental to a conversation because by focusing on the reaction to a person’s comment you are focused on your own perspective which can distract you from the other person’s point of view which will not allow you to get a deeper understanding of the issues.
Listening is win/win
The more you listen to someone, in all likelihood the more they will listen to you and this will allow your relationship with that person to become deeper and stronger.
When talking with someone keeping eye-contact is important because it allows people to feel that you are engaged in the conversation and that they have your full attention.
Get rid of technology
We live in a hyper-fast world where everyone is multitasking to be more productive but these distractions can influence a conversation in ways that detract from the conversation. If you are having a conversation with someone and they are on their phone all the time most likely they are not hearing everything you are saying and it gives the impression that the other person doesn’t care about what you are saying.
By paraphrasing and summarizing what has been said within the conversation you are showing more understanding or clarity of their position and by saying their position back to them they can amend or adjust their words if the point of what they said misunderstood.
Asking open ended questions allows the other person to delve deeper into conversation and go deeper into conversation because they cannot just answer yes or no.
Sometimes people start conversations with others but they are working through something and need to vent without being interrupted. Being present allows this to happen, put away technology, don’t jump in with solutions, don’t interrupt just allow the person to finish their entire thought before adding your own opinion.
Know your limitations
Be aware of when you can’t give your full attention to a conversation. Whether you are overly tired or in a rush you are not able to give the conversation the time it deserves so you should have the conversation at another time. Trying to fake undivided attention will only make things worse.
Edberg Henrik, How to Become a Better Listener: 10 Simple Tips, The Positivity Blog, http://www.positivityblog.com/better-listener/