Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen stated it perfectly, “The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen.  Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention”. Would you consider yourself a good listener? What constitutes being a good listener? Find out why listening is one of the most important skills, and how to be better at it, here. Check it out.

Just Listen

Next time you’re in a conversation, be aware of how you are as a listener. Do you mind wander? Do you wait for your chance to talk? Are you truly paying attention to what the other person is saying? Connections are WAY more likely to be made when two people are conversing and actually listening to one another. Sometimes people don’t want feedback, they don’t want opinions – they just need someone to listen. “If your mouth is open, you’re not learning.” -Buddha.

A Pause Doesn’t Mean An Opening

If you are truly listening to someone talk – you’ll notice they may pause while they’re talking. However, a pause it does not necessarily mean it’s your opening to intervene. If you allow them to continue with their thoughts – you may learn more, share more, and even relate more to that person.

Avoid Close-Ended Questions

It’s very easy when you’re not entirely paying attention to ask questions that require a short “yes” or “no” response. But when you ask questions that require the listener to stop, pause, think, and then respond – it yields for a better conversation. Not to mention, you’ll feel more of a connection to the conversation – and in turn to the person, you’re communicating with.

All Experiences Are Not The Same

Relating to someone’s story while they’re telling it creates closeness and even bonding. But when someone tries to relate their experience as being the exact same as yours – it takes away from the vulnerability of the speaker – and can hinder them from wanting to open up. “All experiences are individual” Celeste says. So although relating experiences helps prove a point or further validate someone else’s feeling – you want to make sure you’re doing it in a productive and helpful way – and not taking away from their emotions.

Don’t Try to Multitask

We all multitask. Probably without even noticing it. But think about how you feel when you’re talking to someone who is simultaneously doing something else. Regardless if they are acting like they are listening, or you know they are completely not listening at all. You lose interest in wanting to continue the conversation.

But it’s not just about this. Author Celeste Headlee, explains why listening is one of our most important skills. “Don’t think about your argument you had with your boss. Don’t think about what you’re going to have for dinner. If you want to get out of the conversation, get out of the conversation but don’t be half in it and half out of it.” How often are we listening to someone but then we also mindlessly start wandering into another direction? And maybe not even on purpose – but just because you’re not paying attention enough to keep you from not paying attention. Be present. The person doing the talking will be able to tell the difference.

Listening to be Polite is Not Listening

You’ve probably heard of the saying “if you can’t say anything nice – don’t say anything at all”. Which rings true, but if you’re in a conversation – it can be counterproductive. Even if you are listening to be polite – people can recognize it. “True dialogue does not happen when we pretend to listen, and it certainly cannot happen if we are not listening at all.” – Ajit Singh – Consulting professor in the School of Medicine at Stanford University.

This is similar to the advice that is often given of “acting” like you’re paying attention. If you are truly listening to the person with whom you’re having the conversation – you won’t have to act like you’re listening.

Follow The Direction of the Conversation

How often are you having a conversation with someone and they say something completely random and out of context while you’re talking? And then you feel like the person you were talking to wasn’t even listening at all. Celeste states that there are going to be thoughts that come to you and you have to be willing to let those random thoughts “pass” in order to maintain a good conversation.


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