“Listening is an art that requires attention over talent, spirit over ego, and others over self” – Dean Jackson

Conversations should not always be about you yapping on and on about yourself. Shut up for a moment and listen to what the other person is trying to say. Listening not only makes you more approachable but it also exposes you to new insights. Sadly, this is not a skill that everyone possesses. Though some may have it innately, most people actually struggle with listening and paying attention. But like any other skill, listening can be developed and perfected over time. Here are some of the tips that can help you become a better listener:

  1. Put your phone away

Phones are major distractions during conversations. Checking your phone constantly gives the impression that the other person is boring and you are disinterested in what they are saying. It would be nice to delay replying to those text messages and posting social media updates until later. In the case that you must pick a call, make sure you excuse yourself.

2. Maintain eye contact

Eye contact demonstrates understanding for the other person especially if what they are sharing is something personal. Proper eye contact makes people feel more at ease around you and encourages them to continue talking.

3. Ask questions to obtain clarity

You might not always understand what the speaker is communicating. That is why you ought to ask questions to get a clearer picture. It is important to wait for the speaker to take a breath before you pop your question. As opposed to perceiving you as dumb, the speaker will actually appreciate your attentiveness and will not mind taking you through it again.

4. Think before saying something in response

Do not rush to blurt out your views after the speaker is done talking. Give yourself a moment to examine your sentiments before responding. This shows that the other person’s opinions are important and deserve careful thought. It also rules out the likelihood that you were just waiting for the speaker to finish so that you can talk.

5. Empathize

Step out of your world and put yourself in the speaker’s situation for a while. Before rushing to judge, allow yourself to share their joys, experience their grief and know their fears. Also, desist from imposing your ideals if they have not asked you for solutions.