Featured Image Caption: Active Listening Skills
Communication problems have become the biggest concern in maintaining a healthy relationship with your partner or family members and society. Communication problems occur when people don’t give their full attention to listening to one another. Have you ever been in a situation when someone is discussing an issue with you and thinks you have the solution rather than focusing on listening and waiting for him/ her to finish the sentence, you only think of ways to speak the solution? Or have you ever been in a face-to-face chat with a person and you start thinking something else instead of listening just to be jarred back to the reality and been asked whether you are paying attention or not? Well, these are examples of being a bad listener or being not an active listener.
Communication is a two-way process in which two or more people involve and share the information they have and their idea. In a communication, the speaker expects and assumes that whatever he/ she intends to say is being heard. To conduct healthy communication, the listener always has to play a vital role by controlling the information/ idea exchange or showing the power to clarify the meaning. But unfortunately, people do not pay full attention while listening and get distracted by the other thoughts coming into their minds. Most people only desire to be heard and understood; most of us do not realize how repeating the same thing can be annoying for someone.
Being not a good listener is not only a waste of time, but it also plays an essential role in decreasing your value & respect in other’s eyes. When we don’t feel like being heard in a debate, we quickly become discouraged, frustrated, or even angry. If you consider yourself a lousy listener, then you work on improving your listening skills. To improve listening skills, one must practice active listening because this helps you make an effort to hear the words and complete the message that another person conveys. In this article, we will discuss what active listening is and ways to become an active listener.
What is Active Listening?
Active listening is not about nodding in a conversation; it is about understanding what someone is trying to say to you. In other words, we can say Active listening is a technique that can be used to determine the successful communication process. It helps understand the speaker’s overall message/ idea and helps a speaker feel understood as it is an intense desire of any speaker. Various studies also suggest that being heard & understood is the basic need of humans because being listened to can easily be translated into a feeling of acknowledgment, acceptance, and belonging. Psychology literature also these feelings as subjects to examine basic human needs. A study held on active listening in the year 2011 says that it was found that functional listening skills were associated with active verbal skills. Active listening involves all senses of a listener. For instance, an excellent active listener always shows their interest in the conversation using verbal and non-verbal messages such as nodding head, making eye contact, smiling, saying only yes or ‘mmm/ hmmm’, and showing other facial expressions.
How to become an Active Listener?
Good active listening skills always help you build relationships, solve problems, resolve issues/ problems, develop understanding, and improve accuracy. During work, an excellent active listening means fewer errors and less wasted time while at home. It helps you maintain a healthy relationship with your family members and helps you make your kids self-reliant who can solve their own problems. Effective listening also builds strong friendships and careers. Here are some tips one can follow to become an effective active listener:
Maintain Eye Contact:
Normally, a good active listener faces the speaker and makes eye contact with him/ her to show he/ she is listening to whatever is being said. However, making eye contact can be intimating for many, especially for those speakers who are shy. You need to make sure that you are making eye contact only for encouraging the speaker and make him/ her feel comfortable. An eye contact that comes along with a smile always makes the speaker feel encouraged and relaxed.
After making eye contact with the speaker, you need to be relaxed. You don’t need to stare at the speaker as it can make him/ her feel uncomfortable. Maintaining eye contact is essential, but you don’t have to make eye contact continuously, you should also look away and act normal. You only have to convey that you are attentive in the conversation.
Show that you are listening with all senses:
To become a good active listener, you need to show the speaker that you listen to him/ her using all your senses. To show that you are listening, you can use your facial or other body expressions such as nodding, Smiling, widening eyes, etc. You can also encourage the speaker through verbal signs like yes “uh-huh, hmmm, etc. While you are listening, try to understand each word the spear is saying and try to picture all the things being communicated.
Now, this is one of the crucial tips one should follow to become an effective listener. It happens more often in the conversation when you find yourself not agreeing on some part or top part of the message or idea delivered to you. In such a case, you should not interrupt the speaker, and you let the speaker finish and then point out your opinion. Usually, interruptions give the speaker chances to assume a lot about you. Some of the common assumptions about an interrupter can be listeners think he is more important than the speaker; the listener is trying to imply that I don’t care what the speaker is saying. The listener thinks he has more exciting things to say etc.
Express your feeling:
During a successful communication, a good listener always tries to feel what the speaker is actually feeling. If you can show sadness, joy, and fearful expressions when the speaker describes such feelings with you, you are assuring that you are an effective listener.
If you lack active listening skills, you should consider the tips given in this article.
By Pankaj Sharma
who is a freelance writer from Delhi, India. He graduated with honours from the Delhi University with a dual degree in Business Administration and Creative Writing and now enjoys writing about technology, education, health, business, and family, etc. He also likes to research various topics related to travel, pets, food, and business solutions.