How To Improve Listening Skills In 2022 (A Complete Guide)
Effective listening means showing interest in the topic being discussed and understanding the information provided. It is becoming increasingly important to be able to communicate effectively in today’s hectic society. Developing effective listening skills is often not given the same respect as speaking effectively.
The importance of listening goes hand in hand with the importance of speaking. Listening effectively solves problems, resolves conflicts, and improves relationships. It contributes to fewer errors, less wasted time, and improved accuracy in the workplace when employees listen effectively. Friendships and careers are built through effective listening. In this article, we take a look at specific tips you can follow to make you a better listener in 2022.
Are you ready to learn how to improve your listening skill? Let’s get started.
Poor Listening Skills: What Causes Them?
Why do people have such poor listening skills? What makes them so unaware of their lack of attentiveness? What strategies can they use to improve their listening abilities?
One reason for this is that most people care more about what they have to say than what the other person has to say. Consequently, whenever they’re not talking, they’re thinking about what they’ll say next. When you are busy formulating your own response, it is extremely difficult to listen to what someone else is saying.
People’s distractions, electronic devices, and competing thoughts are other hindrances to listening. Even though some people can repeat what was said verbatim, they are still guilty of not listening.
What are the benefits of active listening?
As a listening skill, active listening involves hearing what is being said and noticing nonverbal communication. The speaker’s facial expressions, posture, and other body language types can convey a different message than the words they speak.
It is possible to sense a change in an employee’s demeanor and ask if there is a problem. When you are actively listening, you may notice that the employee has their arms folded, does not make eye contact with you, and replies with a terse “no.”
There is clearly a problem, whether it is personal or professional. It’s likely that the “problem” is work-related if, for example, you recently increased this employee’s workload without raising their paycheck. If you are not an active listener, you may miss these communication questions and waste an opportunity to improve your listening skills.
Ways To Improve Your Listening Skills
1. Practice Makes Perfect
When someone speaks to you, you can practice listening by being aware of what you do. If you have an in-person interaction with someone, write down what you heard, understood, and acknowledged, or listen to an audiobook or podcast without text. Listen to no more than four-minute clips and replay them to see how much information you can retain. In addition to enhancing your communication skills, this will help you to become more aware of your role as a receiver of information.
2. Give Feedback To The Speaker
It is possible to give feedback verbally or nonverbally. Feedback can be verbalized by saying things like, “I understand that must be difficult,” or “OK.” Nonverbal cues can include nodding your head and using appropriate facial expressions.
In order to make the speaker aware that you are actively listening, you need to send signals to them. Remind someone you understand what they are asking for when they give you a task list. Taking notes shows that you are paying attention as well.
3. Be Aware Of Nonverbal Cues
Nonverbal communication occurs between individuals in some cases. Communicating with someone can reveal a lot about them through their body language and tone of voice. A person’s eyes, mouth, and shoulder position can reveal boredom, enthusiasm, or irritation when they talk. It is therefore equally important to pay attention to nonverbal cues when listening. Making inferences based on what a person means when they talk to you is helped by it.
4. Identify With The Speaker’s Feelings
Effective listening requires empathy. It is important to mirror the emotions of the speaker. If their face conveys sadness or joy, then your facial expressions and words should also convey those emotions. It takes concentration and energy to empathize with the speaker, but it allows open communication and establishes relationships.
5. Clarify Any Doubts
Keep the conversation on topic by asking clarifying questions. Rather than asking a question that is unrelated to the main idea the speaker is trying to convey, ask questions that pertain to your understanding. In asking clarifying questions without interrupting, you demonstrate that you are listening, paying attention, and willing to discuss further.
6. If You Want To Ask Questions, Wait Until A Pause Occurs
It is possible that you will not understand everything someone says to you. If you misunderstand a topic or phrase, you should wait until they pause before asking for clarification.
7. Avoid Interrupting
Every individual speaks and processes information differently. Don’t rush someone along by guessing the next thing they will say or replying before they have finished speaking if they are delivering their message slowly. Try cultivating patience and waiting for them to finish before you try to rush them along. By interrupting, you send the wrong message to the speaker. There may be a suggestion that what you say is more important, that you don’t care about what they say, or that the conversation is competitive.
Furthermore, it is important not to offer solutions. You are usually just asked to listen to people most of the time. When you have a brilliant idea, you may consider asking if you can share your ideas before offering yours.
8. Make Judgments With Caution
When the speaker speaks, listen without critiquing them in your head. When you receive a message, try not to think about negative or judgemental comments because this compromises your ability to listen. In addition, you should listen with an open mind and understand that the person is telling you what they think. Without listening to them, you won’t know the full story, and you may find that they make more sense as they continue talking to you.
9. Understand What The Speaker Is Saying By Visualizing It
Conjure up mental images of the speaker’s words while listening to help you retain information. A picture or concept related to the topic may be used. When you listen for long periods of time, this will help you remember keywords and phrases. You can also avoid having to prepare for what you will say next by visualizing what the speaker is saying. Whenever you lose focus, make sure you immediately regain it.
10. Take Into Account Eye Contact
A moving target can make it difficult to hold someone’s gaze: they’re talking to you, but you’re looking around the room, checking your phone, or staring at your screen. It is common for you to pay only a small amount of attention to the speaker in many cases. The speaker doesn’t want to have to ask you to look at them, as if you were a child.
Eye contact is a fundamental part of good communication in most Western cultures – but in cultures like Japan and Korea, it can come across as rude or forceful. Additionally, some neurodiverse individuals may have difficulty maintaining eye contact. Understanding your audience/speaker and their needs is crucial.
Nevertheless, many people communicate by looking at each other. You can converse across a room, but if it goes on too long, one of you will get up and move in order to hear the other clearly.
Out of politeness, turn to face your conversation partner. Distracting items such as papers, books, phones, and other items should be removed. Make sure you look at your partner, even if they aren’t looking at you. It may be uncomfortable for certain people to make eye contact because of shyness, uncertainty, embarrassment, guilt, or other feelings, as well as cultural taboos. While you can forgive them, stay attentive to your own actions.
11. Be Aware Of Nonverbal Signs, Such As Body Language And Tone Of Voice
In direct communication, nonverbal communication, excluding email, accounts for the majority. Without saying anything, we can learn a lot about each other. Almost as much as what someone says, the sound and tone of their voice can convey a lot about them.
In person, an expression around the eyes, a twist of the mouth, or a raised shoulder can indicate enthusiasm, boredom, or disapproval. These cues cannot be ignored. It is important to remember that words only convey a part of the message.
In addition, it is important to note that body language can differ between cultures, and neurotypical people may be able to pick up on it more easily than neurodiverse individuals.