listening skills

Thankful for Listening Skills and How To Be a Better Listener

Thankful for Listening Skills and How To Be a Better Listener

Listening skills, we all want and need to be listened to. I know for myself I am so grateful for the people God put in my life. Those who can listen without judgment, and laden with fix it advice.

To be honest though, my listening skills could use some work. I believe because of my need to control I automatically take over the conversation with all my so called brilliant advice. How many of you out there can identify with this? My fears are so strong that they can even damage my friendships. I think I am helping but really all that is needed is a listening ear.

But, then there is texting. Texting is not about listening with the ears is it? This world is changing, no one likes using the phone anymore. It is all about texting, messaging, email, chat etc. So, how does one just “listen” when it is all about reading? This is my greatest challenge, applying listening skills when using non verbal ways to communicate.

I guess listening skills do not really change if they are written (typed) or heard audibly. As I looked for some ideas on how to develop my own skills I found and article called “Five Ways To Improve Your Listening Skills.”

1. BE FULLY IN THE MOMENT

Have you ever been speaking to someone and found that they are distracted by something and not really listening to you? You probably thought this was annoying, frustrating, and disrespectful. At that point you may have even become angry or shut the conversation down.

When someone is speaking it is vitally important to be fully present and in the moment with them. If something else is on your mind, like a call you have to make, or a text you need to answer, let them know, do what you need to do, and when you are finished let them know you are ready to listen.

When listening pay attention not only to the words but the tone of voice, facial expressions, and body language. This will give you information that will be as important as the words themselves.

2. PUT YOURSELF IN THEIR SHOES

Whether you agree with the speaker or even have an interest in what they have to say, what they are saying is important to them. Imagine yourself in their situation, wanting only to have someone listen to them. When they are speaking, make an effort to think of where they are coming from and why. Imagine what their life is like and what struggles they might be facing. People will appreciate that you made the effort to understand and really hear them.

listening skills
listening skills

3. PICK UP KEY POINTS AND LET THE SPEAKER KNOW YOU DID

Many people have trouble focusing on what someone is saying especially if they speak for longer than a minute or so. It is easy for our attention to drift to something else that we might find more interesting. If that’s the case, try to pick up a few key points in the conversation. After they finish talking, let them know that you heard them by mentioning the key points you heard them say and ask them to clarify anything that you did not understand. You will be forgiven for not being able to follow the whole conversation if the person talking believes that you made an honest effort.

4. PRACTICE ACTIVE LISTENING

Most people are thinking of how they are going to reply when someone is talking. Instead of doing that, try to focus completely on what the person is saying. Pretend that you will be tested on how much of what they were saying you heard and understood. A good exercise to practice is to sit down with a family member or a good friend and practice simply giving feedback to them of what you heard them say. You will notice that it gets much easier to focus on their words when you aren’t worrying about how you will respond.

5. DEVELOP CURIOSITY, AN OPEN MIND, AND A DESIRE FOR CONTINUOUS GROWTH

People who are naturally curious see conversations as learning opportunities. They are always looking to discover or learn something new and see everyone they talk to as having the potential to teach them something. They are open to the idea that their own way of seeing things may not be the only, or necessarily the best, way and don’t feel the need to always defend their own point of view or way of seeing the world.

These people are continuously looking for new learning opportunities and taking on new challenges. You will recognize these people as the ones who are signing up for courses, volunteering, and trying new experiences throughout their lives. For them, listening to others becomes an easy and natural way to continue on their self-development journey.

I am guilty of while I am listening I am just thinking of what my reply will be. I know the above tips are pertaining to just audio listening, but how to apply this to written listening?

Maybe it may be a bit easier actually. We can reread what the other person wrote. Pull out points to ask them questions about, instead of giving advice on how to fix it. Find some subject in what they said that peeked your interest and ask they to explain it more.

I have the most trouble listening and reading thoroughly when my emotions are highly aroused. I guess what we can do here is let the person know that we need to take a breather to calm down. We will talk to them when we are calmer.

I am so grateful for those who have great listening skills. But most of all I am grateful for those who are patient with me as I develop my own listening skills.

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