How to listen like you mean it!
We all know that communication is the foundation of healthy relationships and being a good listener is crucial to building that foundation. Here are a few tips that will make you a better listener!
Be mindful! Being in the present moment allows you to focus all of your attention on who is in front of you and what they are saying. If we are not grounded in the present moment and instead allow our mind to drift into past or future worries we will not have the ability to take in and absorb what is being presented to us. Being mindful of the moment and the speaker will allow you to be an active participant in the communication rather than just a passive observer.
Don't plan or overthink what you are going to say next. This can be difficult for those with social anxiety, but if we are in our own heads trying to plan a response we are unable to be fully engaged with who is speaking. If we are worrying so much about our turn to talk we will miss out on what is being said and therefore miss out on making a true, authentic connection. Instead of trying to calculate a response, allow yourself a moment of reflection so that your response can be organic and less contrived.
Use a mirroring technique with verbal language. One of the easiest ways to show someone that we are listening to to use their language. Obviously, we don't want to sound like a parrot, but a good way to mirror may be to say something like.."That must have been very frustrating when (use what they said was frustrating)" or "So, it sounds like your plan is (use what they told you was their next step." Mirroring shows the speaker that you are listening and trying your very best to understand them.
Use a mirroring technique with body language. As humans, our communication is based on both verbal cues and body language. Another great way to show someone that you are listening is to match your body language with theirs. Are they leaning towards you? If so, maybe lean in as well. Are they using animated hand gestures while they speak? If yes, maybe gesture in a similar manner. Mirroring body language not only shows the speaker you were listening, but also conveys a sense of understanding and support.
Ask relevant follow up questions. Most people really want two things from communication...to be heard and understood. Asking relevant follow up questions sends the message that you hear them, you are interested in what they are saying and you are willing to put the effort in to gain a deeper understanding.
Don't interrupt! Communication is about both listening and sharing. In order to effectively communicate our thoughts and feelings, we need to understand our audience and the only way to gain that understanding is to listen. If we interrupt or share without listening our message is likely to fall flat.
If you practice these 6 strategies, you will be an A+ listener in no time!