Active listening is the most important aspect of effective communication. In today’s high-tech and high-speed world, we often ignore the ‘listening’ part of communication. That is mainly because we are not mindful. Active listening is, honestly, a skill. It has to be developed and practised until you get a hang of it and it starts coming naturally to you. The following is a list of benefits that come from practising the art of active listening:
- It makes the speaker heard and understood.
- It helps to build stronger relationships.
- It also helps to build deeper connections.
A good listener creates a such a comfortable workplace environment that everyone feels safe to express ideas, opinions and feelings. Good listeners can creatively solve problems and they save time, avoid conflicts and misunderstandings.
4 effective ways to enhance Active Listening are:
1. Keep complete Focus on the Speaker.
Give complete attention to the speaker, observe their body language, verbal and most importantly their non-verbal queues. Make sure that you do not distract yourself by on checking on to your cell phone or talking to a third person or simply drifting away.
2. Avoid Interrupting the Speaker.
We speak about 125 – 150 words per minute and our brain can comprehend around 600 words per minute. It is safe to say that our minds are under-utilized while listening to others. We often digress or go off the topic or jump into conclusions or are hit by boredom which might break the conversation.
Here are the 3 ways to stop interruptive behaviour:
(a) Close your mouth while listening: Keeping you mouth open might give out a wrong signal to the other person, he may interpret as you trying to counter-attack him or that you are feeling bored. A good way to cope with this is to keep your mouth closed.
(b) Take Notes: This technique is a highly effective one as you’ll end up noting down a few important points which will help further in reflecting.
(c) Change your Focus from Talking to Listening: Listen more than you talk. This will have a drastic impact on your habit of interrupting.
3. Avoid Quick Judgement.
It is not necessary that you always and 100% agree with the speaker.Instead of cutting to the chase and dismissing the point of view completely, you can try acknowledging and giving it a good amount attention which will definitely lead to a profound connection.
4. Show your Interest -:
You need to genuinely look interested like nod occasionally, smile at the person talking. Furthermake sure that your posture is open and inviting and use smooth verbal comments like, ‘yes’,’right’, ‘really’.
you need to note that the more you practice it , the more satisfying and rewarding it is.
I would like to throw some light on the barriers of active listening as well.
- External Distractions:
Distractions like the ringing of the cell phone ringing or vibrating or continuous checking of social media while listening to the speaker is a signal of ignorance and shows that you just don’t care about his or her opinion.
- Being internally preoccupied:
A preoccupied mind is as dangerous as pseudo listening. A million thoughts could be running through your mind which could make you miss out on important details.
- Being too focused on details:
Develop an attitude of looking at the big picture and try listening to the overall message. That does not go to say that details aren’t important, but to be caught onto in-consequent details may ruin the essence of the conversation.
- Monotony of the the topic -:
Sometimes, the topic of discussion can be very dry and monotonous. It can make you want to walk away from the conversation but being at such times is advisable. You never know, you might end up liking the topic at hand.
- Rebuttal Tendency -:
Instead of being a competitive listener, try being sympathetic and wait for your turn to speak.
Onkar a passionate and a living optimist who always sees disappointments as an opportunity, challenges as an adventure and who believes that “winning is about coming out right and not coming out on top” would like to throw light upon how active listening has helped him in his journey so far.