Speaking, especially public skills, have always been given a lot of importance and we attach a great deal of significance with being able to communicate effectively. But what we ignore is the process of receiving the information in a fine manner.
Genuine listening solves problems, ensures understanding, resolves conflicts improves accuracy and helps in bridging the gap between the listener and speaker. At work, a good listener will make less mistakes and waste less time.
You can follow these tips to become a good listener and avoid confusions:
Maintain eye contact
Talking to someone who is constantly looking somewhere else can be useless and might feel like too much effort to put in. A good listener maintains eye contact so that he/she does not get distracted and can gauge speaker's seriousness about a certain issue by looking at him. Making and keeping eye contact lets the other person know that they can proceed with what they want to say, knowing that you are ready to listen.
Once you have maintained eye contact and the conversation has started on a good note, it would be wise to be and stay attentive to what is being said. By attention, we mean:
Apply or direct yourself
Remain ready to serve
Screen out distractions and focus on speaker's gestures and speech mannerisms. Try also to not get distracted by your own thoughts and feelings so that give your full attention to the subject and the speaker. Turning off communication devices like cell phones is a polite and easy way to get rid of further disturbance.
Keep an open mind
Don't let your judgements and biases affect your listening abilities. You must wait to form your opinions, because once you deem someone to be ignorant, ill-informed, or shallow, you immediately shut them out and stop listening to what they have to say. Avoid criticizing the other person right when they are speaking because that will definitely compromised your effectiveness as a listener. Also, it would be advisable to listen without jumping to conclusions. Keep in mind that the speaker is using language as a means to say their mind. The only way you can understand the real their perspective is by listening carefully.
Don't be a person who grabs sentences. When you try to speed up other person's conversation by trying to complete sentences, they end up getting swayed from the topic. Try to adjust your brain to the pace at which they talk and be polite enough to let them finish what they are saying.
Avoid trying to offer an immediate solution
Sometimes, when people explain a problem they are experiencing, it might feel instinctual to offer a solution to their problem. Instead, just listen what they have to say. Most people ask for advice when they want it. Also, someone might simply be trying to talk through a problem to figure out how to solve it themselves, rather than asking you to figure out the answer for them. f someone seems to be really struggling to figure out what to do, and you have a suggestion that you think might genuinely help them, you should at least get the speaker's permission and ask something like, "I might have an idea about how you can handle that. Do you want to hear it?"
Ask questions only to ensure understanding
Ask questions at the right time to ensure understanding and making the speaker realize that they are being heard with attentiveness. When you ask question in the middle of a conversation, it diverts the discussion to an entirely different direction. A friend is talking about her latest vacation to Goa and in the course of this chronicle, she mentions that she spent some time with a mutual friend. You jump in with, "Oh, I haven't heard from Shikha in ages. How is she?" and, just like that, discussion shifts to Shikha and her divorce, and the poor kids, which leads to a comparison of custody laws, and before you know it an hour is gone and Goa is a distant memory.
If at all you do that, take the responsibility of bringing the particular conversation back to where you friend started so that she can complete it.
Being empathetic and connecting with another person will instantly make you a better listener and the speaker more comfortable. Empathy allows you to have a better understanding of what they are trying to communicate and where their feelings are coming from. You don't always have to agree with what they say, but by empathizing with them, you listen to their point of view and you might be better suited to assess what they are trying to express. To empathize, you might try to reiterate in a simple way what they have told you, and voice your interpretation of how they seem to be feeling.
Give speaker a regular feedback
Give feedback regularly through words or through gestures. React by saying things like 'it must have been thrilling' or 'I can totally understand' etc. If you are not sure what to say you can also communicate by nodding or gesturing with hands. You can also give a short summary of what you have understood and see if there is any confusion.
Listening well is an underestimated skill and the importance of it is known only when there seems to be a gap in the communication between two people. By following the above mentioned tips, you can make sure that you become a good listener and ultimately someone people want to talk to.