Having patience and not interrupting
A good listener will always allow the original speaker to finish their sentence with a slight pause after, before adding in their own thoughts. This allows the speaker to have enough time to finish their thoughts without having another person jump in with a response. Interrupting someone mid-conversation is not only extremely rude, but it also makes the speaker feel devalued.
Repeating and paraphrasing the conversation
To be a good listener means is to be an active listener. After someone has spoken, if you reply back to them by restating their points in your own words it will show that you have carefully processed the previous information and are ready to give your own points on the matter. This technique prevents misunderstandings and encourages further discussion, so well done if you already have this skill mastered!
If you ask follow up questions related to the discussion, then you are demonstrating your genuine interest in the conversation and are encouraging the speaker to continue. Seeking this extra information allows for a deeper understanding of the subject and ensures clarity on what has been said, as well as provoking more interesting discussion.
Using a confident and clear tone of voice
Using the correct tone of voice for a conversation is crucial as it further demonstrates that you are actively listening. For example, if the conversation is sad, you won’t want to talk to them in an upbeat tone and appear insensitive. Therefore, being confident within your choice of tone is key. It communicates to the speaker that you are listening to your fullest extent and that you are truly engaged.
A good listener is fully present
A good listener will not let external factors disrupt the conversation at hand. These external factors can include noise pollution or even their own feelings. This does not mean that a good listener can’t convey their feelings on the matter too! They will simply let the speaker get their own feelings out and, without interrupting them, will let them finish before they include their own thoughts.
Pay full attention to the topic of discussion
If you want to show your listening skills, then you need to show that you are actively paying attention. A good listener will do this by maintaining eye contact, keeping distractions to a minimum and refusing to let their mind wander off into a different topic. This will not only allow for the speaker to feel listened to, but will also get rid of any temptations for the listener to stop giving their full attention.
Giving the speaker non-verbal cues
Non verbal cues are crucial. They allow the listener to show their interest, without interruption. The clue is in the name. ‘non-verbal’ means that the listener can actively agree or disagree with the conversation at hand, without dismissing her right to continue speaking. These cues can include occasional nods, leaning forward into the conversation or using appropriate facial expressions.
Showing empathy and understanding
Good listening skills are all about the way you respond to the discussion. For example, if someone is sharing a moment that they are excited about, you would want to reflect this to show that you are a supportive and active part of the conversation. Empathizing with a speaker allows for them to feel heard and understood, so it’s especially important for those painful heart-to-hearts.
Create a safe environment for the speaker
For a speaker to truly open up in-depth about the topic of conversation, the listener must create that safe space for them to do so. This is all down to the listener – you must incite a trustful and encouraging atmosphere for the speaker to continue. The best way to do this is to offer verbal and non-verbal reassurance when needed and reassure confidentiality when necessary.
Not just active listening, active reflection
After the conversation is finished and all points have been made, its crucial for both parties to reflect on eachothers points to then gain an even better understanding of the discussion. This allows the listener to gain new insights and maybe even gain different view points that they would never have thought of before!