Active listening is a skill that many people could use a little help with. It’s easy to talk to people without giving them our full attention. Practicing active listening skills can be just the thing to increase successful communication in your relationships.
Here are some ways to practice your active listening skills:
- Stop what you’re doing. You cannot actively listen if there are other distractions stealing your attention. Give the person in your conversation 100% of your attention. It also communicates respect to the person you’re talking with.
- Make eye contact. It shows the other person that you’re interested AND paying attention to what they’re saying. It also shows compassion to the person you’re talking with by sharing their gaze.
- Just listen. This can truly be the hardest of all. Don’t interrupt. Don’t try to fix their problems. Don’t share your opinions. Simply listen and Hang. On. To. Their. Every. Word.
- Wait for a natural pause to ask the right questions. The right questions are clarifying questions. This is the perfect time to ask questions to make sure you understand what the other person is saying.
- Show empathy when necessary. When you’ve done all of the above, you should have a pretty good idea what emotion they’re feeling. For example: If your friend is feeling down and just needs a shoulder to cry on, now’s not the time to throw a pep rally of a celebration for your friend. Just be in the moment with them. (Tip: This is especially true for people who have just received difficult health news about themselves or loved ones.)