While conversational skills are necessary to ensure success in life, there is one communication skill that is equally important yet not valued as much — listening. Here are 5 tips to boost your listening skills.
When listening to others, make sure that you remain silent. Do not interrupt them by putting forward your point. Instead, note it in your mind. Once the other party finishes their talk, respond to them. If you keep interrupting while they are discussing something with you, they can end up on the defensive. The person might even decide that talking to you is something to be avoided. This will create a communication gap between you and the other person. For someone who is tasked with managing others, such a communication gap can translate into poor productivity.
Mind the way your body is postured when listening to others. Sometimes, certain body stances can seem too intimidating for the other party that they might not feel too confident to share sensitive information. “Folding your arms, tapping your feet, or pursuing your lips are all ways of showing displeasure, impatience, or disinterest. In contrast, effective listening can be communicated by a soft, open posture. Keep your body loose, and consider learning forward to demonstrate that you’re eagerly taking in information,” according to The Law of Attraction.
Make sure that you listen without judging the person too harshly. Even if you do not say a word about your negative feelings about the other party, your body will give off the cues that will make them realize that it is better to keep their mouth shut. Remember that the person has decided to trust you while sharing information. Judging them too harshly will only shatter this confidence and you won’t hear from them in the future. Keep an open, impersonal mind and you should do all right.
If you do not understand something, clarify it with the other party. Do not assume any meaning and take decisions based on such interpretations. For instance, your sales supervisor might notify you that sales in a particular region have slowed down. Now, this does not mean that sales in other regions remain unaffected. Maybe the supervisor has not checked the numbers for other regions.
If you assume that other regions are doing okay, you might decide not to do any additional marketing efforts in these places. If sales in other regions end up on the lower side, your overall sales figures will suffer. Blaming the sales supervisor for not boosting overall marketing will only make you look like a poor manager in front of other staff members. So avoid assuming things and always have concrete answers to your questions. This will avoid communication errors and ensure that people keep talking to you about important things.
Nodding and eye contact
When people speak to you, they want to know that you are actually listening and not merely sitting in front of them. The best way to do this without interrupting their talk is by nodding at appropriate intervals. This will give them the confidence to keep talking. Plus, maintain eye contact from time to time. If you look at other places while a person is talking to you, they might assume you’re not interested in what they have to say. However, avoid staring in their eyes continuously for long periods as this will come off as creepy.