Being a good listener is a great communication skill that will help you establish strong
relationships and be more successful. Being a better listener can help you with your
personal relationships but it could be one of your superpowers at work as well.
By implementing these 5 easy ways to be a better listener you’ll reap many benefits like: being
liked, being trusted and feeling connected to. When people feel heard, they feel respected
and understood and that builds up connection. Most of the human experience is about
wanting to feel connected.
The most successful leaders, coaches, realtors, and even
hostage negotiators leverage their listening skills to be more successful.
Often, our default setting is listening to find a way to respond and persuade or to wait for our
turn to speak.
One of the important things to remember when we talk about listening is that when we listen
to someone else, we need to focus on understanding them and being present to what’s
being said. It’s important to keep our own thoughts quiet and not to worry about responding.
The best way to build our relationships is from that kind of listening.
Here are the 5 easy ways to help you become a better listener:
1. Body language
Be hyper aware of what you face and body are showing to the person you’re listening to- are
you making eye contact, nodding your head to show that you’re listening, do you have open
body (uncross your arms and legs whenever possible), are you leaning in a bit towards the
speaker, are you turning your body towards to the person speaking? Pay attention to your facial
expressions and show that you’re engaged. Of course, looking around, playing with your
phone or fidgeting around are signs of boredom so try to stay as focused on the person as
you can. If you feel like you’re getting distracted, you can get back to being focused by
getting really present to the words being used, the tone, the speed of speech and to their
body language. When you set this as a goal, you’ll find it easier to stay focused.
2. Wait a few seconds after someone has finished speaking to start talking
One of the golden rules of life coaching is to wait about 3 seconds after my clients have
finished speaking to respond or to start talking. It’s not easy and sometimes it feels awkward.
But time and time again, I’ve seen amazing results from this practice- people tend to
continue speaking if allowed the space and often share the most important bits of
information after you’ve made that pause.
I know that sometimes we really can’t wait to make a comment or ask another question but you’ll be pleasantly surprised how much you’ll
be rewarded if you just leave more “space” in the conversation. It makes the speaker feel
like what they’re saying matters and once they feel like you’re allowing them to continue to
speak, they’ll share more of what their thoughts and beliefs are. Then, they’ll feel a stronger
connection to you because they’ll feel heard and understood.
3. Don’t finish people’s sentences no matter how enticing it is.
This one is short and sweet- just let people find their own words no matter how slow of a
speaker they are. When I was younger I loved offering up words from my vocab but with time
I learned that when we do this we strip off some of the trust and intimacy we’ve built up with
that person. We seem impatient and not as interested. When you allow that extra time for
people to speak, they’ll see that you’re really interested in what they have to say. And that’s
great listening skills 🙂
4. Ask more clarifying questions to make sure you understand
When you ask more questions, you show the person your genuine interest and that you’re
willing to spend more time on making sure you understand them. That makes people feel
important and like they matter to you. Even if you feel like you’ve got what they were trying to
say, just asking a question to make sure you got them “right” will boost your relationship with
this person. And you may be surprised how many times it would turn out that you didn’t get
perfectly right what they were trying to say.
Think of conversations like peeling onions. You’ll
stay on the surface if you don’t ask questions but if you want to deepen the relationship,
you’ll need to ask more questions to get closer to the core.
Bonus points: start your questions with the word “What” and not “Why”. For example: What
is it about this that’s important to you? vs Why is this important to you? What is asking for
more depth and Why is asking for their reasons which could seem like you’re questioning
5. Acknowledge the speaker and thank them for their openness to share
It’s not only good manners to thank someone for the conversation but you’ll show them that
this interaction was meaningful to you. Also, you’ll acknowledge the fact that being open and
vulnerable to share your thoughts, feedback or opinion is not always easy. Everyone likes
a reward for their courage to share and therefore makes them more likely to do it
again. Moreover, by thanking people you’ll make them feel good about this interaction. The
better people feel around you the stronger your relationship with them will be.
I hope you enjoyed these 5 easy ways to be a better listener. If you like learning about
communication skills, you’ll probably like this post I wrote about recently about another easy
way to improve your communication skills.
As usual, I’m staying available for your comments or questions 🙂 Reach out at
email@example.com or schedule your complimentary consultation by clicking here.