Do you long to connect more with the people in your life? Do you talk alot or get distracted when someone else is talking?
Listening is an important key to connect with others. In conflict, listening is the key to bringing peace to your relationships.
There are different kinds and levels of conversation. There are conversations that are like ping pong, a natural back and forth exchange. These are light conversations. Another kind of conversation is when you have more in-depth interactions. These tips will facilitate a more meaningful conversation with any person and show respect to someone who wants to share something significant with you.
7 Effective Tips for Listening
1. Allow the person to fully express themselves and their feelings without interrupting. This takes responsibility on your part and a willingness to understand the other person. You show care when you set aside your own desire to be heard and listen to someone else. The interesting thing is when you are willing to listen to someone else, they usually return the favor and show interest in listening to you as well.
2. Be present with them. If you are in person, look them in the eye. When you walk or eat together or on the phone and it would be awkward for continual eye contact, make sure you simply let them know you are with them. Let it come natural but be present.
3. Listen to your heart, not just your mind. Get a feeling of empathy for what they experienced or felt.
4. Let them finish. If in doubt, you can check with them to ask, “Are you finished?” It is too easy to jump in and share your own story, thoughts and feelings. Wait until they get to a stopping point to share what you think.
There are always exceptions to this principle for example when someone is not respectful and they just go on and on, you may have to interrupt or break off the conversation unless you have endless time to listen. Then you give them the gift of extended listening.
5. Acknowledge their feelings. If you want to respond during their sharing, it is appropriate to acknowledge the person’s feelings. For example, say “I understand why you would feel frustrated, angry, sad, happy etc.” This validates someone and their experience whether you agree with them or not.
6. Ask if they want feedback. When they are finished, if you want to offer something other than empathy ask them, “Would you like to have some advice or feedback?” This is respectful. The person is more likely to receive what you have to say if you ask for their permission.
7. Be gracious in your response. If they say yes, be careful to give it in a way that says, “This is my perspective or how I see it.” Refrain from being judgmental or attacking the other person. If you see a problem in their perspective or what they share, attack the problem and not the person.
There are a number of principles expressed there. Choose the tips that work for you right now and then review these tips from time to time to increase your skills.
Be willing to experiment with new behavior even though it may feel uncomfortable to you and at the same time don’t put a lot of pressure on yourself to do everything “just right.”
Good listening skills are like other learned skills like art, crafts or gardening. It takes time, practice and making mistakes to get better.
Magic happens between you and others when you learn and use these skills. There are many benefits to offering the gift of listening. We will continue to discuss them in future posts.
“…be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…” James 1:19 (NIV)