How to Improve Your Listening Skills to Be More Understanding

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Real listening strengthens relationships.

 

Have you ever found your mind wandering while listening to a friend going on about a problem or something new that happened? Maybe you are distracted with a new obstacle at home or work that currently took priority over your attention span. Though no one intentionally tries to miss parts of a conversation, it happens more often than you realize since the average person has only an eight second attention span.  Therefore, in order to be a better friend, co-worker, lover or employee, then it’s important to improve your listening skills.

Taking the time to really hear what is said can show deeper understanding and compassion, not to mention respect for what that person is going through.  Being an adept listener can strengthen relationships on many fronts because you are someone that really hears the words by listening effectively.  In return, you show others that you are worthy of their trust.

After all, real listening is an art.  It is also is one that needs to be practiced to fully comprehend the difference it makes to better lives.  Thus, it always is helpful to know where to start.

Make Sure to Understand What Is Being Said to Sharpen Listening Skills

When it is your turn to talk, try to sum up all that was said first in your mind before voicing any opinion.  Repeat back something that your friend just shared could help you get further clarification without appearing that you weren’t listening.

For example, maybe your friend is hurt that she wasn’t invited to another mutual friend’s wedding. Tell her, you hear how angry she is but the invitation might have been delayed because of the new mailman or her recent move.  Reminding her of the possibilities helps her and you to keep your mind on what she is saying, a sign of a thoughtful listener.

If you happened to miss something because what was said doesn’t make sense to you, then ask for a clarification.  However, by all means, do not judge.  You are there right now solely to listen.

Verify What Your Friend Is Trying to Get Across

Sometimes, the best things that you can for do for this friend is by lending a sympathetic ear.  Understand what this person is going through by mirroring what you learned back when answering.  Words such as “I can understand” or “I see why you’re so upset” shows that friend you understand the place she’s coming from.

Learn to Hear Between the Words 

Are you hearing any missed clues or a pattern that could suggest how your friend really feels?  Learning to pick up on unspoken words also will mark you as a good listener.

Take Inflection and Body Language Into Consideration

Being a better listener requires tweaking your observation skills.  Examining your friend’s tone of voice relaying this story to you and body language can reveal a lot of hidden emotions. If your friend’s voice is excitable and keeps getting louder or her arms are crossed defensively across her chest silently also speaks the truth.

Think Carefully About Interrupting

One of the worst offenses a good listener can display is interrupting during the conversation.  When doing so, you are refusing to hear what that friend is trying to say, which is selfish.  After all, the friend is revealing this problem or situation to you.  Therefore, do allow her to finish and show that you understand.

Don’t Rush to Offer Advice

Regardless of how tempted you may be to offer opinions, proceed with caution.  A real friend doesn’t hide the truth as she sees it, but sometimes that opinion is not asked for or appreciated it.  Think before responding.  Show extra thoughtfulness with something like “Let me give this some quick thought,” to express that you’re taking time to come up with a worthwhile solution.

Avoid Rattling on About Your Own Similar Problem 

Allow your friend to say all that she has on her mind.  Yet, don’t think that she necessarily feels like hearing all the times that you had the same thing happen to you.  No matter how good your intentions may be, your friend may only want to air her thoughts with another soul as a sounding board.  If you have questions, ask them instead.  However, she will tell you when she wants that opinion in her own time.

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