Listening is a habit that makes us aware of what is going on around us. We can listen and comprehend what the speaker wants and act accordingly. But, active listening is an art that is actually required for effective communication. This skill helps us read between the lines and with which we can show interest to our communicators.
This helps to focus on our communicators and make them feel we are genuinely interested in the conversation. Active listening comprises an active mind and body language. Both verbal and non-verbal communication is important. The ability to actively listen is counted amongst the top interpersonal skills for people in leadership or managerial positions.
Why is it Important to Work on Your Listening Skills?
Active listening is the most important tool in your communication skillset as it enables you and your team to increases transparency, honesty, and success. It gives a feeling of trust to the communicator as they believe they are being heard and makes that person feels that their words are of value.
Active listening is beneficial for the speaker as well. It helps reduce miscommunication and makes for a better working environment. It helps in generating a positive environment with reduced conflicts and ease in problem-solving.
Practicing the Art of Active Listening: Be a Better Listener:
Active listening is a combination of verbal and nonverbal communication and is comprised of body language, restatements, nonverbal cues, and much more. Some of the techniques that you can apply are:
1- Positive Reinforcements Are A Must
An effective method to convey that you’re actively listening to the speaker is through positive reinforcements by nodding or giving verbal indications. This can help the speaker understand that you have followed what has been said and have understood what the speaker is trying to convey.
Be sure to not extend your verbal indications as they can be distracting for the speaker. Try to be modest with the signs that you show.
2- Ask Relevant Questions For an Engaging Conversation
When you ask questions that are related to the topic on natural pauses, it implies that you have heard and given a thought to what the speaker is trying to convey. It also helps people understand that you are genuinely interested and want to know more about the discussion.
3- Restating Important Points
Highlighting the key pointers in your own language and throwing light to the important part of the conversation. This implies that you’ve heard and understood the main highlights. It also shows your interest in the dialog and wants to know more.
4- Give Non-verbal Cues
Non-verbal cues comprise body language, facial expressions, tone of voice, etc. Making comfortable eye contact, being face-to-face, and reacting to their words can help you connect better with the speaker.
On the other hand, if you constantly look at your phone or the clock, this can give a negative impact on your speaker. This clearly gives the sign that you are uninterested in talking and can put the other person off.
5- Practice active listening exercises to enhance the skill
Active listening is a skill that can be learned over time by practice and doing exercises designed to hone your abilities. One of the most effective exercises is to re-write what you’ve heard in a conversation in your language. When you know that you’ll have to write a summary, your mind is forced to alert and focus on the key points.
An effective listener will let the speaker convey what he/she wants to say and listen to the key points by leveraging verbal and nonverbal methods of communication. This will help you become more mentally active and have strong decision-making abilities.