5 simple ways to improve your listening skills

We all make the mistake that we think we’re listening well,
but in fact, we aren’t.
Or we do a job, that is just good enough.

So here are 5 simple ways to help you improve your listening instantly.

But before we talk about how to improve, let us say one thing:
It’s not your fault that you’re still not good at it.

We were all taught to converse, to dialogue.
It’s natural for us to do so.
What is less natural is to simply listen.
We were not shown it enough, nor taught to do it properly.

Yes, to listen.

Simple listening, and just listening.

Let’s see what happens to so many of us:
The biggest mistake which people make when they think they’re listening to someone is that they’re constantly occupying themselves with what will be the next thing that they will say.

It comes from a good place because we think:
♦ What can I say which will be helpful here?
♦ How can I support this person with what they’re sharing?
♦ What tip can I give this person?
♦ How can I make them see this or that point?
♦ What will make this an interesting conversation?

Ad (even if subconsciously):
♦ What shall I say to sound funny / interesting /clever…

In fact, good listening starts with just hearing the person in front of us and really taking in what they’ve just expressed.

Not being occupied with what you have to say, but only concentrating on what they’ve said.

So here are a few very simple tips to do it:

1. Do not interrupt.
Let the speaker finish what they have to say.
As tempting as it is to say something, to respond, to acknowledge with things like “I know what you mean” and “Wow, that sounds amazing / terrible / great”…
Don’t.
You can nod, you can do a simple mmm sound to show that you’re there, but wait until they finish talking before you’ll say something.
This is of even more importance when the person you listen to shares emotions or opinions.
When you disturb the flow of talking, it may feel like you are underestimating what they say.

A great and simple tip:
Close your mouth when you listen, It’ll remind you that it is not your turn to speak yet.

2. Forget yourself, and concentrate on them
That’s not an easy task.
It is only natural to try and connect to what the other person says to your personal experience and to share things that happened to you or respond with your story.
After all, that’s what connects people, right?
The shared experiences are important but when it comes to listening, it is only the experience of the speaker that counts.
So even if you have something important to say, try not to think about yourself, and concentrate only on the speaker.

All the time?
No. Not all the time, and there’s a place for sharing too.
You can of course ask them if it’ll be helpful if you share your story.
However, as professional listeners, this needs to be done very carefully in order not to take away from the story of the speaker.

3. Stop multitasking.
When you listen, just listen!
This is by the way, why so many people find going to see a coach so useful:
Because it could be that this is the only place in their lives in which someone just does one thing:
They listen to them, without doing the dishes / driving /eating, or folding the laundry while they’re talking.
They are not even checking their Facebook / Instagram or whatever when they are listening.
So do the same.
It’s better to give 100% of listening for 5 minutes than multitask while listening for a longer time.

Be present in your listening:

Listen with your whole body:
Good listening is not only what you hear but also what you see and feel.

4. Look at the person you’re talking to:
Try to keep eye contact.
This doesn’t mean to look them in the eyes all the time, but more to make sure that when they’re looking at you, your eyes will meet theirs.

Always?
Well, no. Not always.
There are exceptions to that, and in a professional conversation (such as between a coach and a client) it is sometimes better not to make eye contact, but in general, eye contact makes the other person feel that you’re present.
And presence is key to showing the other person that you’re listening.
Eye contact makes the person you’re talking to feel important and respected.
Try not to be tempted to wander around with your eyes. When you maintain direct eye contact with the person, they will feel important and respected.

5. Look at their body:
Pay attention to the speaker’s body movements.
Their body will tell you if they’re comfortable with you and feel relaxed when talking to you.
Try to be as relaxed and welcoming with your body language to make them feel that there’s no threat or nervousness here.
That they’re free to share.

We encourage you to try these things.
If you find it useful,
1. Let us know in the comments, it’s always nice to hear your opinion and
2. Share this post with people you care about and think they’ll love it too.

And stay tuned, because we have lots more tips (this was really the tip of the iceberg), and lots more explanations on how to be great listeners.

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