How to be a good listener in 6 (not so simple) steps

Connected and engaged listening is an incredible skill. Good listening can be awfully difficult, but as it’s practiced, it will  become a habit. It’s beneficial to every relationship because people need to feel they are being heard and understood. If you can do this consistently and well, you will have learned a great way to show love. To listen well, you must first want to listen. Force yourself to be engaged in the conversation whether you’re interested or not. If you're going to undertake a conversation, don’t do it half heartedly. It’s disrespectful and deceitful to have your mind occupied elsewhere as you pretend to be listening. Whatever method you take for capturing your thoughts and creating the desire to be engaged, do it!

Now that you've cultivated the desire to hear what the other person has to say, it's only reasonable that you Do NOT engage in other activities while you are listening. It makes the other feel uncomfortable and unimportant. Multi tasking is indeed a skill, but there are certain times that full and complete attention to one thing is worth the effort. This is one of those areas. Regardless of whether you did hear them amidst your project, the speaker feels as though you didn’t.

It's uncomfortable at first, but it speaks volumes if you maintain eye contact. We have all experienced telling a story, where we get distracted because we wonder what on earth is behind us, to our right, left and above us. Flies? Bubbles? Angels? People’s eyes dart all over the place, and we rush to finish the story as soon as possible. Their lack of eye control makes us assume they're looking for the nearest exit. It takes self control to maintain eye contact, but it's worth developing.

Okay so this one requires some serious self control. Hold your tongue until there's a good pause to insert your comments. Don’t interrupt! People need to feel they have been heard. When you don’t allow them to finish their sentence, you are telling them, you don't care what they have to say.

When you do interject with your own thoughts, first off, acknowledge what was said, and then talk in the same streams of thought. Don’t completely change the subject, until you have given it a little attention, to show you were indeed interested. You can do this, by sharing a similar experience, or by asking good questions. Another facet of this is to mimic their feelings and body language in your own facial expressions and gestures, while they're talking. It shows your engaged, and empathetic.

That's a significant amount to think about as someone is telling you about their trip to the mall, or recent family reunion but the return on investment is huge. That person will walk away feeling loved, important, and special. So to recap......

To Listen Well:

1. create the desire to listen

2. don’t engage in other activities

3. maintain eye contact

4. don’t interrupt

5. acknowledge what they said

6. mimic body language

“People won't remember what you did or said, but they will remember how you made them feel" unknown author