Ten Ways to Listen Better

DiAnn Mills @DiAnnMills

We are approaching Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, and all the parties and get-togethers in between. One thing we can count on (besides lots of food and drink): is conversation. To participate in a meaningful conversation, we must first develop the art of listening.

Introverts tend to do a better job of listening because their personality will do anything to keep attention away from them. They may or may not enjoy social settings, and they are usually drained by interaction. They internalize everything. Reading an introvert is more difficult because they don’t put their emotions, opinions, and words out there. Talking is hard; listening is easier. Introverts learn by watching and listening and are often quiet and shy.

Extroverts love people and thrive on social affairs. They are outgoing and enjoy taking the spotlight. The person dancing on the dining room table and trying to avoid stepping on the turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, and gravy? That’s your extrovert. Every person they meet has the potential to be a new best friend. Talking is easy; listening is more difficult.

All of us can benefit from listening to others. The words tell us what the person intends for us to hear, but the body language and tone of voice may convey a different meaning. That means the listener focuses on the person with sincere attentiveness. In turn, that equates to trust. If I know you are truly listening to me, then I can share my feelings and opinions.

Here are ten ways to develop better listening skills.

  1. Commit to the work necessary to develop good listening skills.
  2. Practice eye contact.
  3. Ask questions. Listening well means the conversation is not about me.
  4. Don’t interrupt.
  5. Pay attention to body language.
  6. Maintain personal space guidelines. No point in making the speaker feel uncomfortable.
  7. Focus on the speaker as though he/she is the only person on the planet.
  8. Avoid fidgeting.
  9. Relax, even if you don’t feel like it.
  10. Provide feedback but not opinions or solutions unless requested.

I want to master listening skills that show I care. Now is the time to begin before the holidays are here. What about you? Can you offer a listening tip that shows the speaker you care?