Listening Is An Art: 4 Ways To Develop This Life-Changing Skill
Listening is an Art
The essence of listening is observing without reaction. You can get caught up in thinking about how you are going to respond rather than listening to what is being said.
Be mindful of when you start thinking about your response before they have even stopped speaking. Communication is not about rushing, it’s about taking the time to fully engage.
Here are four ways to help you engage and connect more deeply:
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1) Listen Without Judgment
When you jump to judgment you shut down your ability to fully engage.
Your brain runs away with thoughts shaded by expectation and assumption.
This prevents you from hearing what is being said or what may lie just beneath the words.
2) Listen Without Distraction
This is listening 101. Put your phone down. Turn off the TV. Make eye contact with whom you are talking.
This lets them know that you are present. They’re more likely to open up at deeper levels.
3) Listen Without Seeking to Fix
We like to be helpful and want to be able to assist those we love. This is a natural response. Often people are not sharing an experience with you because they want to be critiqued or because they are looking for ways to remedy their situation.
Oftentimes we just need to be heard.
If I’m talking to someone I know well, I’ll ask, “What do you need from me? Do you need me to just listen or are you seeking my advice?” This works especially well with spouses, dear friends, and children.
4) Listen Beyond Their Words: Tone and Body Language
Listening is not just auditory. You can hear their words but you must also assess their tone and the words they choose. Are their words more positive or negative?
Also, be aware of their body language. Defensive stances are often more closed such as folded arms, head down, and crossed legs. More open, engaged, and optimistic stances are leaning forward and arms at their side.
Listen to your own mental, emotional, and physical responses. What do they tell you?
The art of listening takes time to develop. Stick with it and your connection with others will become easier and more satisfying.
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