Listening is the most important aspect of communication. If you do not listen carefully to what the person is saying, it might end up in misunderstandings. Not only in a formal kind of communication, the art of listening must be practiced well even in the informal or day to day communication. In other words, listening is an active process which involves continuous effort from the listener.
In today’s world, it is very difficult to get someone who is a good listener. We are restricting ourselves to the four walls of our homes with the gadgets making us forget the fact that we are social beings. We are supposed to be interacting with each other by looking into their eyes, but it is not always our fault. Not mastering the art of listening is definitely ours.
There are roughly two types of listening: active and passive. It is this active listening that we need to develop in our communication to make it more effective and worthy. Let’s look at a few steps that would lead us to the ultimatum of active listening.
- Stop talking and start listening: We often have the tendency to interrupt a monologue because it tends to get bore. This would lead to improper conclusions made from the inadequate information. When we break the flow of conversation it might even disturb the speaker, making him/her feel like you are not interested in what they are saying. So, whatever be the topic of discussion, listen than speak at first. After the monologue, you will definitely get a chance to express your personal opinion and evaluations. Wait for your turn than rush.
- Maintain the contact: Mentioning contact doesn’t only mean proper eye contact but also physical and mental proximity with the speaker. If your mind wanders, so will be your body. Don’t forget that your body is the mirror of your mind. And that does not mean conquering the other person’s personal space. Until you start the conversation verbally, it will be your facial expressions and eyes that are going to speak for you. Make sure to make it subtle yet expressive.
- Be empathetic: Another important aspect of active listening is to show your empathetic side. When someone is expressing their emotions with you, they are expecting you to understand things as they. Well, it may not be possible for us to experience it with the same intensity, but yes, we can consider things from their point of view. Empathy is all about getting into the shoes of the other person. Once, you become empathetic, the process of listening would get easily without much effort.
- Pay attention: Try to give importance to each and every aspect of the individual including their facial expressions, body language, and even the slip of tongues. This is a common mistake that we all do, we tend to forget about the aspect of non-verbal communication, which is the most important. At times we can find that there is incongruence between the two. Which later on needs to be clarified.
- Be patient: You should neither hurry the speaker nor hurry. Be patient while listening and give enough time for the speaker to put forward your clarifying questions. Do not arrive at conclusions very easily without much information. Try to start the conversation with open-ended questions so that the speaker could have some space. Make them feel relaxed and be relaxed.
- Paraphrasing: Once the conversation is over try to paraphrase your understanding to make sure that you understood it right. Do not complicate the conversation rather be patient and use simple language. Along with paraphrasing try to give feedback to the speaker about the matter. This is an important step that not only indicates your level of understanding but also clarifies the doubts and misinterpretations.
- Summarize: While paraphrasing is done at intervals, the final step is to summarize it. This is your turn to arrive at a conclusion for the whole conversation. Make sure to use appropriate and accurate information. Another important aspect is to make it precise, do not drag the information. And that is what summarization is meant for. You are supposed to present a good conclusion for the whole conversation.
Make sure not to ruin the act of listening by indulging the various barriers like information overload, personal issues, mental sets, distractions, or prejudices. Be active enough to ask for clarifications whenever needed.