Buzz, buzz! A new notification pops up on your phone, and you must check it, right? We know the feeling. But, if you’re talking to someone, they might feel it too.
The lost art of active listening requires you to be present, block out distractions, and focus better. But, when you’re doing something else – checking your phone, watching the clock, or glazing at the TV – you are telling someone, “Hey, I’m not present. You are not that important.” Even so, they may feel unwanted, unimportant, and disrespected.
Showing the appropriate response to best display active listening skills helps show people what they have to say is really important to you.
Prepare ahead of time
Whether it’s a coffee with an old friend or an important conference call, it’s essential to take a few moments beforehand to prepare for the conversation mentally.
So, build in a buffer time before conversations to reset and center yourself. Even if it’s only a few minutes, jotting down key topics you’d like to discuss can help make for a smooth conversation.
Use appropriate body language
Show active listening skills with your body. Great listeners will maintain eye contact, express their understanding by leaning forward, and motion “go on” with their hands to convey interests. Conversely, you can tell if the speaker is receptive to your body language by paying attention to their tone of voice, posture, and facial expression.
Create a little wiggle room
Allow space for a conversation to breathe! Do not come into a discussion with preconceptions, but rather an open mind to explore opportunities. Don’t limit what’s possible; it defeats the purpose of the conversation right off the bat (which is the whole point of the discussion). Create wiggle room for new ideas to grow.
Slow down to show respect
Humans can think 3-4 times faster than we can talk, which means if you’re speaking too quickly, you might be tripping over your thoughts while someone else is talking. So instead, train your brain to slow down, focus on what the other person is saying and take active notes in your head. Then, when it’s a good time, think through what you’d like to say, and speak it if it’s appropriate. By listening (without interrupting), you’re showing the speaker a sign of respect for them and their opinion.
Use specific phrases
Try these active phrases that offer verbal cues to allow the other person to know that you are listening to them without speaking too much:
- Please tell me more.
- Go on.
- Please give me more details.
- So what I’m getting from you is.
- Let me see if I got that correctly.
- What led you to that conclusion?
- How do you feel about that?
- Yes, I especially agree with [fill in the blank].
- Could you clarify?
- Is there another related issue regarding that?
- I just wanted to make sure we’re on the same page…
- Please continue; I’m following what you’re saying.
- I’m glad [blank].
Sometimes we forget to listen. We’re primed to find a shortcut to satisfaction, joy, or some other destination we’re told to deserve or expect with swamped schedules and information overload, constantly checking emails and social media.
By now, it’s apparent that digital distractions weaken our connection with each other. Technology makes us less present. It displaces us from reality, the here and now. It disturbs our ability to listen, comprehend and make meaning from our interactions actively.
Build back the ability to listen for the sake of your personal and professional relationships with these tips. When we take a moment to pause and listen to the speaker, it fosters a dialog with true meaning. It brings value to solve problems, generate new ideas and establish deeper relationships.