Síguenos / Follow us!
Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around, Leo Buscaglia.
We have two ears but only one mouth. Some people suggest that this is because we should spend twice as much time listening as opposed to talking. Others suggest it is because listening is twice as hard, Unknown.
The human being is a social animal, and therefore interpersonal communication skills are vital to success in life, both personally and professionally. They include non-verbal communication, active listening, dialogue, questioning, silences, etc.
Authentic and active listening do not only project a positive image of ourselves, but also enrich our lives, avoid misunderstandings and therefore prevent many unnecessary conflicts in our relationships. In addition, the speaker feels that we are interested in what s/he is saying, in other words, we make others feel valued and cared about. We learn from new ideas, insights, and original observations, we get essential feedback for our performance, work, etc. This all leads to smoother, more positive, and richer relationships.
However, our modern society is full of noises and distractions. Everything is urgent, everything is for yesterday. It is not the best environment for active listening. We can see how people are constantly interrupted by questions, comments, and remarks, by mobile devices and social media that overload them with loads of information and messages. People get easily distracted and bored after just a few minutes of listening
How to listen actively?
- Keep silent, stop talking. It’s as simple as that, you need to pay attention to what other people are telling you. Listen quietly, avoid interrupting people.
- Remove distractions and noise. Do not consult your mobile phone, check your email account, social media, etc. It is not the moment for watching television or reading a newspaper either. Choose a suitable place for communication where you can both speak comfortably. It should be an area without too much noise, distractions, and interruptions.
If you want to say something important and the other person is watching television, checking the mobile phone, or reading the newspapers and “pretending to listen to you,” stop talking immediately. Ask him/her to stop doing what s/he is doing and listen to you, find another time where this person is available or have a better attitude or, as hard as it sounds, find another person who offers you the attention you deserve. You are worth it!, you deserve someone paying attention to what you have to say.
- Active listening is an essential part of empathy. As we listen, we can put ourselves in someone else’s shoes and begin to understand that person: his/her points of view, circumstances, needs, feelings, choices, etc.
- Do not judge or criticise anyone. Forget your previous ideas, assumptions, and preconceived prejudices. Hold your tongue, keep your judgements and negative comments to yourself.
- Show them you care by listening, offering sympathy, and understanding. You can use body language to show that you are focused and listening: keep eye contact, smile, nod your head, lean towards the speaker, sit or stand close to him/her, etc. You should also use verbal cues and utterances to let them know that you are listening: “I see,” “Yes,” “I know,” “uh-huh,” “Right,” “Mmm,” etc.Furthermore, ask them questions for clarification (“Could you explain better what do you mean by…”), encourage them to give more information and elaborate on what has already been said (“Go on, I’m all ears,” “Tell me more about it…,” “And then, what happened?”). Avoid awkward silence. Provide affirmative feedback, paraphrase what they are telling you (“So what you are saying is…,” “So you are upset because…”) and ask if your understanding is correct (“Is that what you really mean?”).
- You mustn’t be in a hurry. Be patient, don’t interrupt the speaker. Listening is about giving the gift of our precious time, giving your full attention to the other person, giving others the opportunity to talk and be heard. Listen carefully and patiently to what they say. How can you build meaningful relationships if you are not able to devote the necessary time? How do you expect to be a good parent if you do not have enough time to listen to your children, their desires, feelings, concerns, problems, and aspirations?
- After active listening, you may express your thoughts. However, you do not need to give your opinion or ideas about what you have heard. Sometimes, it is not convenient at all. Some people need to be heard and understood, feel like their opinions matter and nothing else ― full stop!
- If you want to express your ideas, views, and opinions, consider this:
- Your ideas and views will be more interesting, rich, and effective if you have been able to understand everything that has been said and have taken it into account. Two monologues do not make a dialogue. Be slow to disagree, criticise, and argue. You should aim to have an open mind, to build bridges between his/her point of view and yours, offering a positive and constructive dialogue.
- If you’ve listened actively with patience and generosity, it is more likely that your partner/friend/colleague is receptive to what you have to say.
- Keep calm, be honest, and, if possible, use a good sense of humour. Avoid open confrontation while being assertive, in other words, you can talk with courage and determination and yet be tactful and considerate.
- Rapport is about making a two-way connection between people by asking thoughtful questions and listening actively. It is about ‘tuning in’ to someone so that you match and mirror him/her. It includes facial expressions, voice tone, posture, body language, etc. For example, an adult may bend down to a child’s level to interact with him or her.
Compártelo / Share it!