Do you want to learn how to become a better listener when having conversations with others?

Whether you know it or not, listening is a crucial soft skill you need to build successful relationships and navigate everyday situations. Without effective communication, there’s no way you can be an efficient leader, friend, or confidant. 

When we think of effective communication, we often think of the right things to say. However, communication has a lot more to do with listening and trying to understand the other person and less to do with saying what others want to hear.

Whether you’re at work or at home, it’s important to learn how to listen so you don’t face misunderstandings with others and can complete tasks with your team. 

If you want to become an expert listener, here are 4 simple tips to help you get started.

Pause Before Responding

When conversing with others, do you find yourself quick to respond even when you aren’t completely sure of what you want to say? You might think this is helpful, but it can lead to confusion and more questions.

To give the clearest communication you can, make sure you take at least a couple of seconds to respond to what someone says to you. It’s easy to say the first thing that comes to mind, but taking your time to create a well-rounded response will take the conversation further.  

The next time you speak to someone, pay attention to how long you wait until you respond. Make a conscious effort to wait until you respond and see how the conversation changes.

Avoid Making Assumptions

A lot can get lost in translation when there’s no effective listening taking place. In many conversations like these, one party assumes what the other thinks or feels without any proof or verification. However, if you aren’t vocal about your concerns, you won’t know the truth or receive answers.

When having a conversation, ask meaningful questions to get more insight into what the other person means. If you don’t understand their point of view, ask them to clarify for you. 

Assumptions lead to judgmental thinking and can ruin a good relationship with friends, colleagues, family, and even those you’ve just met. They leave no room for giving people the benefit of the doubt and are usually negative in nature. 

Remove Distractions

Have you ever experienced a conversation with someone who wouldn’t get off their phone or quit people-watching while you spoke? Not only does it give the impression that you aren’t interested, but it’s also plain rude.

Common distractions during conversations include phones, televisions, other people, laptops, and much more. It’s easy to get distracted by the things happening around you, but with enough effort, you can bring your attention back to the conversation. 

Before meeting, you can put away your phone and face away from any screens so you know you’re less likely to wander. 

Practice Open Body Language

The way you physically present yourself while talking to others says much more about your feelings and thoughts than your words do. Nonverbal communication includes eye contact, posture, gestures, tone of voice, physical space, and much more. 

A huge part of active listening is showing the other party that you’re fully engaged in the conversation. You’re present and show that through body language and other nonverbal cues that signal you’re interested in what the other person is saying. 

You can practice open, positive body language by:

  • Sitting up straight
  • Giving enough eye contact
  • Avoiding laughing or smiling during serious conversations
  • Gesturing while speaking
  • Showing an active interest in what the other person tells you

Over to You

Learning how to be an effective communicator is a game-changer for building healthy relationships. Whether these conversations take place at work or in your personal life, it’s crucial to use active listening in your daily life. How will you improve your communication skills?