I tend to be cut and dry when it comes to learning certain things. I can say I’m a pretty good listener but being an effective listener was another. It didn’t help to have a very logic/analytic brain that I’m quick to problem-solving and not thoroughly aware of the fact that I opine unwantedly and completely be blind to the emotions.
With the help of an actual lynda.com Effective Listening course, I was able to dissect the conversation I had with my partner last night and realize the true focus of the problem. Yes, we had an argument and I took an online course to be better listener. It helps! There are appropriate ways to respond to a speaker and demonstrate how to listen effectively.
Knowing what my strengths and weaknesses were in comes to listening allowed me to focus on the true intention and purpose of listening and start creating good habits.
- Always and primarily paraphrase the content and emotion of what the speaker has been talking about. Being able to offer a quick summary is the easiest way to show that you have been actively listening. Don’t focus too much on the details, and ask frustrating questions. Don’t make it about yourself. The speaker has been vulnerable enough to come to us. Don’t be quick to criticize and provide advice without being asked. We are always trying to learn something from what the speaker has to say.
- It’s important to clarify your role as a listener at the beginning of the conversation. Asking the speaker “Do you just want to vent?” or “Are you asking for my advice?” can help us be the listener the speaker needs us to be. We have to be aware of our mental filters, before we start prioritizing what we need to know and start criticizing them about the things that don’t fully align with our thinking.
- Mirroring is the best way to empathize. By listening and paraphrasing what we listen to in the similar tone, body language, we start to fully understand the speaker. By sitting in the same posture as they are, we can relate to the emotional state of the speaker.
- Silence is golden. The quieter you become, the more you can hear. When we sit there in silence, we are to say “I am here with you 100%”.
- Practice, practice, practice by deliberately practicing we can be effective listeners. Or else, it’ll be really emotionally straining. GUH. Like me rn.
The top five skills and intentions of an Effective Listener
By knowing which ones are your default strengths and weakness we can begin improving as an effective listener.
- Recall the details
- a. It’s important to be able to retain specific information during a conversation. It’s a mental exercise to recall the details and can be very frustrating at times when we get down too much into the weeds. Knowing specific information important when the next steps is to act after the conversation or meeting.
- Understanding the Big Picture
- Being able to grasp the overall meaning and key ideas of the what has been said can lead us to a greater understanding as a listener. By being able to ask ourselves “how will this affect us five years from now?” or “How can I explain this to an oustider?” we are able to strategize and focus on the vision. This enables us to be able to truly learn what we listen to
- Attending the subtle cues
- By attending to the subtle cues, we pay attention to the non-verbal cues that still convey the meaning. It’s our role as listeners to ‘get the hint’ and understand what they are truly saying.
- Evaluating the content
- It’s one thing to be aware of the details and facts, but another to move towards judgement and critically question what we hear. This involved asking about the viability of the argument, the fallacies and how they are staying on topic. This skill can lead to a lot of conflict if we are quick to arrive to judgement before understanding the true purpose of listening.
- Empathizing with the speaker
- Being able to empathize to the speaker is being able to understand the emotional state of the speaker. These are things that are often not directly said. By mirroring their body language and tone, ‘tell me more about that’, we can diffuse our emotions and judgements and be able to thoroughly detect conflict.