Listening is a very essential characteristic people need to have. This is because with listening, you learn more, thus understanding more, and eventually communicating and connecting better. Have you ever thought of the idea that there is a difference between hearing and listening? There is a difference for sure and that is that hearing is just looking like you are paying attention to the person talking while you are not aware of all he is saying. However, when it comes to listening, you are paying attention to the person talking, maintaining eye contact, and focusing on what he is trying to get across.
People really get annoyed when people do not listen actively to them and their stories because it makes them feel like they are not important and do not deserve time to be heard. On the other hand, listening to a person will allow them to respect you and feel like they are important and thus would like you as a person. If you want people to listen to what you have to say, then you should do the same. Some people often ignore someone who is seeking their attention, and at the same time they expect their full attention. That is just wrong.
Let us look at some of the signs that you are a good listener:
1. Maintaining Eye Contact
Would you like if you were talking to someone trying to get a point across and he is just doing something else, or looking at something else? Or would you prefer them to keep their eyes on you? Well, it has always been the norm to pay attention as someone talks and keep an eye contact with them. However, with the rise of technology and social media, communication is declining in quality.
People are on their cell phones long hours each day. Sometimes even when their parents talk to them, they would not even look at them. Now, is this appropriate? No, not really. As a matter of fact, this is often very disrespectful. Eye contact is important in conversations and is a sign you are paying attention to the person sharing his stories, advice, or just asking to do him a favor. Moreover, this even provides a sense of mutual respect and friendliness. Besides, all of us need to feel like we are important and that someone is there to listen to us.
Focus is another important element of conversation and communication as a whole. In a conversation it is sometimes easy to tell the difference between an individual who is in the moment with his heart versus someone who is thinking of something else. Ever felt like you need to rush through your talk when chatting with someone? If you did, then this is because that person is just not listening properly to you and has something else on mind.
Did it ever happen to you that you are talking to someone, and suddenly you get this unrelated question out of the blue? That is the obvious sign that the person was not listening to you at all. Maybe you did the same to someone else? However, with others you might feel like you have all the time in the world and that they are willing to listen to every single word you have to say. They even sometimes elaborate on certain concepts to hear more from you. These individuals make you feel like you are the center of their attention, which is a splendid feeling.
3. Not Interrupting
One of the most annoying and irritating feelings in life is when you are trying to get a point across and the other person just constantly interrupts and interrupts. Interrupting the speaker before he finishes his sentence or idea causes the focus to shift to you. It is like telling the other person that your ideas are more important. I mean do you not think that it is rude? It is certainly rude to interrupt and once someone presents themselves as rude, they lose respect from other people. Besides, one of these interruptions can turn into a long-headed argument and fight you could avoid.
So, do not interrupt the other person the same way you would not like the other person to interrupt you. Often what happens is when two people are talking on the phone and engage in a big fight and start raising their voices, this initiates interruptions. However, it is this moment that is the true test, where even in this case people should respect each other and not interrupt. Another negative aspect of interruption is that once someone is interruption he often loses his train of thoughts. This tends to cause the speaker to need more time to get his point across as he needs some time to regain his thoughts.
4. Finish Off Sentences When Appropriate
What do I mean by finishing off sentences only when appropriate? I am talking about when you are chatting with someone and he gets caught up in a sentence and you are able to finish it off for him. This is not to be done often though, because there is a fine line between adding to the conversation and interrupting. A good listener will not try to push his story through, but only help you when are speechless or lost in words.
When done properly, this shows the other person that you are indeed listening to them and are on the same page as them. As a result, the other person would really appreciate the effort you are making and respect that you are really listening to every word he is saying. Try it out and see the results.
Validation is essential in our lives as it is an indication that we are doing things correctly. For instance, studying consistently for a chapter test in math is really good. Moreover, what is even better is getting back that test paper with all the anticipation and suspense associated, to notice that you achieved a 95%. As soon as your mind processes this information, your body jumps out of joy and is overwhelmingly happy. This is one form of validation of our hard work and effort.
Now moving on to communication, telling a speaker that you comprehend what they are saying and understand why they reacted the way they did or saw something in a certain way is confirmation of their intelligence. On the contrary, if you do not understand, do not blame the speaker telling them that they are talking nonsense and they are wrong. Maybe try saying, “So what you are saying is …..” In reality, you are asking them to repeat what they are saying in a polite, indirect way.
6. Ask Questions
Questions over time have been the best way to learn more about something. I mean there is really no other way we could get to understand things or inquire about something other than questioning. In communications, a good listener will ask thoughtful questions about your topic or idea, leading you to open up more and elaborate on the discussion.
A good example of this would be when the speaker talks to you about their work and responsibilities at Company X. You could then ask what their job functions or duties are when it comes to their department in that company. Another good example is when they discuss an issue they had been facing for a while and you ask: “Why do you think that had happened?” or “How do you think we can fix this?” These are simple, open-ended questions that engage the speaker and allow him to talk more about the details.
A good listener would wait until the end, without interrupting, and then provide a good summary or paraphrase of what the speaker just talked about and their point of view. This shows that you accept the speaker’s perspective whether you agree with it or disagree. This in turn provides the speaker with the sense that their words and opinions are accepted and that they have your support, an extremely important feeling. Saying that you understand why they did or acted this way shows that you do not necessarily agree with their act but that you recognize what they have done.
8. Feedback (Your Opinion)
Feedback is connected to validation. It is important to provide our opinion when in a conversation, because you never know if this would spark a new idea or benefit someone in one form or another.
Nowadays, we face so many distractions that it gets really hard to completely get rid of distractions altogether. Those distractions include multitasking and social media. Multitasking could be a good thing sometimes, but it can sometimes affect you too. An example of this would be the famous texting while driving. Texting while driving is a very bad and dangerous act that some people just do not understand the seriousness of. There are many and many accidents that occur because of getting distracted by texting. This is something very simple that we can avoid and will affect society positively.
The other distraction I want to talk about is social media. We have seen a lot of teenagers and college students who just cannot sit a total of an hour studying without browsing Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the internet in general. This is another simple distraction we can discard and achieve better results. This could sometimes be the difference between passing and failing a course.
9. Provide Encouragement
Human beings feed on encouragement and motivation. These are two strong strategies to live by to lead a successful life. Let us zoom a bit on the encouragement strategy. It is always a good habit when listening to friends or others speak that you throw in encouragement phrases when they feel down. This is beneficial because when one day you are in their situation, you will find someone that will help you get up. Suitable encouragement phrases include: “I’d like to hear more,” “That is interesting,” or “Tell me more.”
10. Follow the 80% / 20% Rule
This rule presented here is a very practical and effective rule because it is based off logic. Did you ever wonder why we are born with two ears but only one mouth? There must be a wise reason behind that. The explanation I have is that we need to listen more than we talk and it is proven that doing so ends up creating better communication. The 80% / 20% rule is what this is all about.
A person that calls himself a good listener would know that the secret behind being a good listener is to listen approximately 80% of the time while only talking 20% of the time of the conversation. This is a very simple yet effective rule; however the problem is that we all need to implement it.
Another good tactic to use as a good listener is to interact with the speaker. This could be done by simply nodding, smiling, and saying phrases like “Yeah”, “I understand what you mean”, “I see”, or perhaps “No, really?” Of course you do not say these phrases with discomfort or indicating that you do not really care about the story, you say them in an interested way to encourage the speaker to continue their story and that you are willing to listen.
Overall, listening is an important tactic to learn in order to maintain positive, mutual communications. The above are just some of the many ways you can prove to others that you are listening. More than just proving to others, you want others to treat you the same way. If you have a good listener in your life, do your best to keep them close and inform them of your appreciation. If you are still rummaging for a good listener, then wait long because the wait and search are both worth it.
Having a good listener in your life will give you a sense of comfort that you have this special someone that will always have your back and listen to what you have to say.
Do you have a good listener in your life? Tell us about what makes them so good at listening in the comments below.