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Becoming a good listener with an open mind can help you to be a better friend, family member or partner. It is easy to get lost in yourself by inward thinking. Here are some ways to improve your listening skills. Below I have listed 3 dos and don’ts of being a good listener.
- Be quiet. It is said that we have two ears and one mouth for a reason. Before offering solutions or judging what the other person is saying, take the time to see the situation from their perspective.
- Always make eye contact. When someone is talking to us, we need to give him or her our full attention. In a report published by Psychology Today communication is comprised of different channels being 55%of communication is body language, 38% is the tone of voice, and 7% is the actual words spoken. So if we are always playing with our phones when someone is talking to us, we are going to miss out on what is really being said.
- Give nonverbal cues that you are listening, nod or smile, but try to maintain emotions.
- Avoid comparing the persons experience to your own. It is natural to want to compare our own experience; as humans we want to connect and relate to others. But, in certain situations such as a death in the family, it may become offensive without meaning it to.
- Don’t jump to conclusions, interrupt, or try to finish someone’s sentences. This can actually affect the direction of the conversation and they may not actually get to say what they were trying to say because you have swayed the conversation in a different direction.
- Try not to have expectations or preconceived ideas. And remember, just because someone is telling you their problems, it doesn’t mean they want you to fix anything.
For more information on becoming a better listener check out the book, Seven Thousand Ways to Listen by Mark Nepo.