If you want to win friends and influence enemies, one of the best things you can do is learn to be a good listener. Most people are really good talkers but there aren’t many who will truly listen. If you’re not such a great listener, it’s definitely something you can fix. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
1. Make eye contact. While people are talking to you, look at them. But not with an intense stare – that’s creepy.
2. Actually listen. Don’t be thinking about what you have to do when you get home or what you’re making for dinner. Listen. Then when they say something that requires a response, you’ll know what to say.
3. Ask questions.
4. Try to understand what they’re talking about. Don’t just go through the motions.
5. Remember what they said. If they mentioned they were going on vacation at the end of the month, when that month is over, ask them about their vacation. Or if they’re having a procedure at the doctor’s office, ask them how it went. Nothing makes a person feel like you care as much as following up on something they said.
6. Don’t interrupt. Let them finish what they’re saying before you respond.
7. If someone is telling you about a problem they’re having, don’t automatically jump in with a solution. Often people just want to talk. Wait to give advice until they actually ask for it.
8. Don’t change the subject just because you’re tired of listening. On the other hand, some people do tend to drone on and on so it’s beneficial to know how to change the subject gracefully at the appropriate time.
9. If you really do have a time limit, rather than looking at your watch every minute or two, let the person know you only have a certain amount of time.
10. Sit in a relaxed manner. If you’re sitting on the edge of your seat, it will seem like you’re waiting for an opportunity to escape. Sit back, relax and act like you’re enjoying the conversation.
These principles don’t just apply to conversations between adults but also conversations between adults and children. Children LOVE it when adults truly listen to them talk. And yes, some of the hardest conversations to listen to are the ones with children but it’s worth it!
What kind of listener are you? What areas do you struggle with?