Are you listening properly?
How often do you feel like you’re not being listened to properly? I often find myself getting annoyed at my husband if I’m talking to him and he’s on his phone and I just know he’s not paying attention to me. I then had a sudden realization that I often don’t listen properly to him. In this world of technology, it’s so easy for us to get lost online and not focus on those who are actually with us. So here are a few tips to help you to truly listen to someone. You never know what effect good listening could have on someone else.
Why listen properly?
Listening properly has become really rare in today’s world. We can all find ourselves so caught up in our thoughts that we actually stop listening to what people are saying. But, what if that person wants to talk to you about something important? Or what if they would like your proper attention so that they feel loved and secure? True listening helps to strengthen relationships, promote understanding, solve problems and ensure understanding. It also makes you feel like a kind person! It can help your friendships, your career and your relationships. So, how easy is it?
It’s so easy to listen
Listening just requires you to switch off from yourself for a while. You grant the other person the gift of time which, in LLLY’s opinion, is the greatest gift you could give anyone. And here are 5 top tips to help you improve your listening skills:
- Get rid of any distractions
If you have your phone with you, put it away! Put away that book, put down that cup of tea and keep your attention on the speaker. The worst thing when someone is trying to talk to you is when the supposed listener is scrolling on their phone or paying attention to other distractions around them. Think how you would feel if this was you.
Another distraction could be your location. If you’re in a busy café you are likely to want to gaze around the room and stare at other people. Try and find a suitable location – you definitely don’t want to be having a deep and meaningful conversation in the supermarket or in a quiet place where everyone can hear you!
- Keep eye contact with the speaker
Keeping eye contact with the speaker makes them really feel like they are being listened to. In the Western World, we know that eye contact signifies effective communication. By keeping eye contact, we don’t mean staring at the speaker intently and not blinking! Rather it means showing that you are listening properly. Try not to get distracted by others around you, especially if you are in a busy place. Try and think of a time when someone was looking around the room rather than listening to what you had to say. It feels rubbish doesn’t it? Instead, engage with the speaker and be courteous. Make them feel special.
- Don’t run away with the thoughts in your head
We often relate what people say to our own life experiences. For example, if the speaker is talking about a holiday in Ibiza as part of their story, you may start thinking, “Ooh, I’ve been there! I wonder what hotel they stayed in? Did they like it? I want to tell them I went there!”. But good listening requires you to put these thoughts aside. This conversation isn’t about you – it’s about the speaker. Remember that key fact!
- Don’t be a critic
You want to be able to listen to the other person without judging or criticising them. Keep an open mind with whatever the speaker is saying and don’t jump to conclusions! If you feel that you would be unable to listen without criticising, maybe have a think about whether you should be listening at all. It may be best for you to tell the speaker that they should speak to someone else.
- You are NOT a problem solver
Listening does NOT mean solving problems. Listening doesn’t involve providing solutions to the speaker and they might not be asking for your advice anyway. Giving solutions also imposes our own judgments and ideas onto the speaker which could have negative results, especially if they haven’t requested it. If you really feel that you have an amazing solution to offer, make sure you ask permission to say it!
So, give good listening a go and let us know how you get on! It might feel hard at first, especially to silence your own thoughts, but you’ll get better at it as time goes on. And if you want someone to listen to you, come and book in for a session with Steve.