Being a good listener is one of the most important skills one should develop over the course of his or her life. Since most of us communicate with several people on a daily basis, it is only natural that we should know how to listen and understand what they’re telling us. They call it communication for a reason. So expecting to simply talk and not have to listen to your interlocutor is a sign of truly bad manners. If you don’t believe us, here are 5 tips on how to be a good listener, coming from experts in this field.
Expert Tips on How to Be a Good Listener
1. Don’t Just Pretend to Listen
Probably one of the most common things when it comes to communication is people pretending they are listening to what the other person has to say. In reality, they are thinking about what they should have for lunch. Or maybe what their favorite soccer team accomplished this season. Author Bernard Ferrari, known for his book Power Listening: Mastering the Most Critical Business Skill of All, believes that in order to be a good listener, you have to truly understand what people are telling you before you start speaking.
2. Ask for More Details
Marriage and family therapist Mudita Rastogi advises us to avoid asking yes or no questions when we’re having a conversation with someone. This will limit what they can say to you. Moreover, it could bring the entire conversation to a grinding halt. Instead of doing that, try asking open ended questions. This will show interest in your interlocutor’s topic. Moreover, it will motivate him or her to give you the details they consider necessary.
3. Let Them Know You Understood What They Told You
In a conversation, it is important to let the other person know you are following their train of thought every now and then. What is the best way to do that, you ask? Well, Elizabeth Bernstein writes in her Wall Street Journal piece How Well Are You Listening? that we should paraphrase what our interlocutor has told us whenever we get the chance. That way, they know we are truly listening.
4. Do Not Keep Busy with Something Else
Perhaps one of the rudest things you could do when someone is talking to you is browse through your phone or answer texts. Brenda Bence, who wrote the book Would You Want to Work for You? agrees. Whenever you are in a conversation with someone, keep away from all the things that could distract you from being a good listener.
5. Don’t Judge
Sometimes, we tend to enter a conversation with the preconceived notion that we know what the other person is going to say, and that we won’t like it anyway. However, there is no possible way of knowing exactly what is going through someone’s mind. That is why, Philip Tirpak, president of the International Listening Association, advises people to welcome other points of view. Avoid stubbornly sticking to your guns no matter what.
We hope these 5 experts tips and tricks on how to be a good listener will be of assistance the next time you have to engage in a conversation with someone, and you feel your listening skills are being tested.
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