Whatever you do in your life, whichever career you are pursuing, active listening is one of the most essential skills in life. You may be a business person, employee, self employed, or even a householder active listening is a skill that will smoothen your life.
As a life coach in India I have realized this that because of the lack of this quality, arises many problems in people’s lives. Even in corporate sectors many team members lack this quality. And as a soft skills trainer it becomes our duty to make people realize the importance of this quality.
But the question is what exactly is active listening? And how you can cultivate it more in your life?
What is Active Listening?
In simple meaning, active listening is the process of listening with complete focus. In many ways the process of active listening is actually the art of listening.
But most of the people never listen with utmost attention. Their mind is always wandering. They might look like they are listening but their mind is somewhere else.
And so the process of listening with complete attention of what the other person is saying is called as active listening.
Why Active Listening is important?
The process of active listening is one of the most essential skills of many top leaders & life coaches. Here are some pointers that explain the importance of active listening:
- This skill helps us to understand other person’s perspective.
- It provides us with the necessary information that we require in day to day life.
- Not only this but the people you listen to will be much more connected with you.
- Your reputation will rise in other people’s mind, as people will feel that they are heard when they are with you.
- Your learning & perceptive capabilities will also increase. This will impact your overall performance in life.
How To Improve Active Listening Skills?
So, in order to improves active listening skill in communication I am sharing with you 10 tips to improve active listening.
TIP 1: Look in the eye
Whatever the conversation is, always look in the eye. Eyes are the most developed sense organ in human beings. When you lock your eye contact with the person you are communicating you are locking your attention with what other person is saying.
Not only this but the other person will also be focused on you. This way when you respond in the communication chances are that you will be heard & understood better.
Only when you intentionally want to show a little disinterest or if you want to disagree with what other person is saying, you may look in other direction.
TIP 2: Face your speaker
Make sure that whenever you are in conversation with a person you are facing the person. Don’t make a weird eye contact by keeping your face in other direction.
When you are facing your speaker you are showing a keen interest in what other person is speaking. This will boost confidence in the other person and also it will make your connection strong with the other person.
There may be certain communications where you will need to literally look in the other direction. In such situations you may ignore both the tips.
TIP 3: Open body language
When your body language is open the other person feels more comfortable sharing the information with you. The more the information the more power you have in any social situation.
Also with open body language you will more involved in the conversation. With open body language you will be much more receptive.
There are certain situations where you will require to keep a close body language for various reasons. If a situation requires you to do so, do it, but be conscious about whatever you do.
TIP 4: Respond
Response is the most important aspect of any conversation. Without response there is no conversation. For a conversation to happen response from two or more people is required.
You need not necessarily say yes or no following each and every statement. A little nod will do.
But it is very important to respond to other person. This way you perceive the information better and also you are creating your connection with the other person strong.
TIP 5: Don’t Judge
No matter who is speaking a good listener will never judge. Nobody likes to be judged, especially when we are not in a perceptive mode. Remember that most of the time our job is to listen to the person and not labelling him or her. We don’t have a duty to give a punishment or justice to other person.
All we need to do is listen to the person and if situation requires respond the person with a little advice. But in no situation we are supposed to judge the other person.
You may analyse the situation or the information the other person is giving but a good listener will never judge the other person.
TIP 6: Stay grounded
Once you become an active listener you will become a little famous as a good listener. Then chances are that people will come to you to share their experiences. Many times such experiences will be unpleasant. Listening to such experiences may disturb your peace and your personal life.
As an active listener it is very important for you to stay grounded and not get swayed in the emotions. For this you may focus on you breathing while listening. You may take a couple of deep breaths during the conversation.
Once the conversation is over and you leave the spot make sure that mentally you accept that the role of an active listener is over. You focus on the next task you have undertaken. This way you will not carry the negativities of the conversation.
TIP 7: Have empathy but not sympathy
A good listener is always an empath and not a sympath. Empathy is feeling relatable with the situation of the other person. Sympathy is living the situation of the other person.
You may definitely get involved in the conversation but don’t live it. You may have seen people watching film in a theatre who get so much involved in the movie that they respond to certain scenes like those scenes are happening with them. A sudden dramatic & scary scene occurs they get shocked like it is happening to them. And they get a little amorous during some romantic scene. Such are the examples of living the scenes. You definitely do not need to do it during a conversation.
TIP 8: Ask question
Active listening is not only about listening but it is about better communicating. An active listener will ask questions in order to understand better what other person is trying to say.
So during the conversation you may ask sensible questions that will put more light on the subject you are listening to. You may also ask in a confirmative way.
But make sure your timing is right. Don’t interrupt the other person.
TIP 9: Ask closed to the point question
As & when necessary you ask closed question which will lead the conversation to the point. There may occur certain situations where you know that the person is saying all the wrong things. Now during certain situations if you directly interrupt & say that you are wrong, chances are that you may be misunderstood.
It is better to ask a question which may lead to the answer that you want the other person to focus on. For example the person is saying that ‘My mother intentionally irritates me.’ Instead of saying that you are wrong you may ask the question ‘Do you think that she is doing this because she enjoys torturing you? Or if she herself is facing something stressful which she is not able to handle and instead she removes all her stress and anger on you?’ Such closed questions will shed light on the reality and you will not become an enemy.
Such closed questions will guide the other person in right direction and will also make you a good listener & guide.
TIP 10: Let the other person conclude
In general people’s fundamental nature is that once they start talking they forget to take a break. It is very important that a conversation gets over when it is supposed to be over. Otherwise people will jump from one topic to other.
So when you see that there is nothing more to know about a topic and the other person has also shared all of his or her views & opinions then you tactfully conclude the conversation. Or you make the other person conclude it.
You may directly say ‘ok I got your point, thank you for sharing’ or you may say ‘I think you have shared all the details, do you have anything else to share, if no then we may conclude the conversation’. Or you can change the topic too.
So these were 10 tips for active listening. Such tips are very important especially when you are therapist, psychologist, life coach, business coach, executive coach.
- Look in the eye
- Face your speaker
- Open body language
- Don’t Judge
- Stay grounded
- Have empathy but not sympathy
- Ask question
- Ask closed to the point question
- Let the other person conclude
If you follow these tips it will help you become a good conversationalist and a great active listener. This will help you in your overall life.