Active listening takes more than perking up your ears. Follow these tips to ensure you are putting your best ear forward!
Be here and now.
Resist distractions. Try to focus on the person talking to the exclusion of noises and interruptions.
Do one thing – listen. Don’t do five things at once. The person with whom you are talking deserves your undivided attention.
Let them “see” you listening. Communicate that you are listening by leaning forward slightly, focusing on your speaker’s face, and not glancing away too often.
Put yourself in your speaker’s shoes. How does it feel to not be listened to? Keep the other person’s intent in mind as you focus on their words.
Be quiet. Even if you aren’t talking, quiet your mind so you can be open to your speaker’s ideas. Mentally arguing points hampers effective listening.
Wait. Don’t jump to conclusions, interrupt or tune out – this reduces your ability to stay in the conversation to hear the whole message.
Don’t react. Take time to take in the whole message. If you feel defensive or angry about a message being communicated to you, chances are, you may shut your speaker down with “closed” body language such as folded arms.
After major points in a conversation, ensure you understand the speaker’s message. Use these phrases to transfer their ideas into your words, “I want to make sure I understand what you are saying…” or “So your concern is…”