Hearing is easy! For most of us, our body does the work by interpreting the sounds that we hear into words. Listening, however, is far more difficult. Listening is the process of looking at the words and the other factors around the words (such as our non-verbal communication), and then interpreting the entire message.
Below are six examples that you could practise to become a better listener;
- When you are listening, listen. Don’t talk on the phone, text message, clean your desk or do anything else.
- Avoid interruptions. If you think of something that needs to be done, make a mental or written note of it and forget about it until the conversation is over.
- Aim to spend at least 90% of your time listening and less than 10% of your time talking.
- When you do talk, make sure it is related to what the other person is saying. Ask questions to clarify, expand and probe for more information.
- Do not offer advice unless the other person asks you for it. If you are not sure what they want, ask.
- Make sure the physical environment is conducive to listening. Try to reduce noise and distractions. If possible, be seated comfortably. Be close enough to the person so that you can hear them, but not too close to make them uncomfortable.
Active Listening is a good way of improving your communication skills.