Active listening is an important skill in both personal and professional life. From helping you interview to remembering important information, being an active listener is a more necessary quality than some would think.
So how do you show you care? Are an active listener? And how can you improve your skills?
Below are 7 ways to demonstrate active listening and improve your listening skills:
1. Eye Contact
Eye contact is important in any situation. It shows not only that you are listening and interested in what the other party has to say, but also demonstrates confidence in yourself and comfort in your capabilities.
2. Be Attentive
Use and repeat the names of the individuals with whom you are speaking. This shows you have paid attention to their names and how to pronounce them. Provide signs you are listening such as repeating information, nodding along with information, smiling when they smile or make a joke, and asking questions.
3. Repeat What You Heard
Repeating what someone told you is a great way to communicate you understood what was being said. It is also a great way to retain information; if you repeat back something incorrectly, the other party will stop you and clarify.
Using this technique immediately after something is said helps the conversation flow smoothly as well. Stopping every few minutes to ask follow-up questions or to ask someone to repeat what they just said becomes frustrating after a while.
Incorporating what someone said to you into your response gives you the opportunity to make sure your information is accurate, and gives the other party an opportunity to elaborate.
4. Be Patient
Wait for the speaker to finish speaking! This shows that you are not just “waiting for your turn to speak,” but that you truly care about what the other party is saying and are interested in hearing their complete thought.
Think of a time where you were talking about something important to you and somebody cut you off. Didn’t feel too great, I’d imagine.
5. Do Not Try to Steer the Conversation
When you are asking questions, it is important to choose ones that help you further understand what the other party just said and do not take the conversation off-topic. Instead, ask questions that drill down into the subject at hand. This shows you’re engaged in what is being said, and, when combined with patience, allows you to gain the maximum amount of information from the conversation.
Demonstrating empathy is important in all areas of life. In conversations specifically, empathy shows you understand where a speaker is coming from. Empathy is achieved when you demonstrate an understanding based on entering the other party’s perspective. This cannot be achieved without active listening skills.
7. Provide Feedback
Once the other party is done speaking and has paused to give you the opportunity to respond, start your response with some feedback. What did you like or disagree with about what the other party just said? Was anything confusing? Any need for elaboration? Feedback is a great way to let the other party know you were listening and understand what they had to say about the topic. It is also another opportunity to practice tips #3 and #5.
Active listening can help in an interview, in school, with your parents, on a date, etc. This skill is applicable in so many areas; don’t miss out on an opportunity to learn something important or impress somebody with your recall abilities!