Listening is as important for good conversation as speech is. Your ability to influence or convince people increases manifold, if you develop good listening skills. There are many other advantages of being a good listener. These include:
i) Learning from listening: When you talk, you repeat what you already know but when you listen, you are likely to learn something new.
ii) Active listening is the secret to discover great stories: Active listening enables you to understand and assimilate not only what is said but also what are left unsaid. The body language and the modulation of the speech reveals all.
iii) Improving relations: Everyone wants to the other to listen. Good Listening raises the self-esteem of the speaker. At the same time, you also become important in your own assessment. More importantly, the speaker finds that you are giving respect to his views. As a result the relationship between two individuals improves.
iv)Unnecessary arguments avoided: In the meetings most arguments take place due to lack of proper listening and understanding. It is said that first understand and then be understood. You already know what needs to be said if you listen to the other person appropriately and you have understood him/her.
v) Overall improvement of productivity: If you are a good listener and make the speaker feel that you are, the conversation becomes more focused. Brevity replaces verbosity and time and energy is saved by everyone.
There would be many other advantages of being a good listener but I think these are enough to convince everyone about the dire need to become a good listener. How can one become a good listener? What are the steps we must take for becoming one? I list below seven steps which when followed would result in development of adequate listening skills. These are:
Step I: Prepare yourself to listen. Relax and focus on what the speaker says. If any other thought is coming to your mind, put it aside when listening to someone. Do not try to think and solve any other problem like you might miss your train or about the argument you might had with your boss and the like.
Step II: Make the speaker comfortable and put him at ease. Let them feel free to express what they have in mind. Maintaining an eye contact will make the speaker feel that you are listening.
Step III: Maintain your patience. If you are not patient your body language will reveal that. And it is not possible to listen properly unless you are relaxed and are not in a hurry.
Step IV: You must empathize. Try to understand people by looking at the situation from their perspective. If the speaker says something with which you do not agree, keep an open mind and don’t snub.
Step V: Avoid your personal prejudices. You may have one style of saying things. You may be fluent in language; everyone is not. So, you must not negate others on any such basis. Give them a fair opportunity to explain.
Step VI: Listen to the body language. You can listen with your ears. But you can also listen with your eyes. Body language is extremely important when you are engaged any critical discussion.
Step VII: Ideas are important, not just the words. Listen to understand the ideas. The speaker may not be an expert in communications and may not use precise language. In that case re-frame the sentence according to your understanding and ask if you have understood well.
The above steps to improve your listening skills aptly deserve the time and effort you may spend. The benefits are immense.
Thanks for reading.