Active Listening Exercises
4 Ways to Listen More and Talk Less
So you want to become a better listener. Great! The better your listening skills, the more people will want to talk with you and the easier it will be to advance your career. It’s not easy to find opportunities to practice active listening. However, we’ve got some advices on how to do so effectively in any situation!
Pay Close Attention to Body Language
Body language is a big part of communication, but most people focus on what’s being said, not how it’s being said. Be aware of posture, eye movement, breathing patterns, hand movements, facial expressions, and anything else that might reveal what a person is feeling. This can help you better understand and respond to the situation as a whole. Paying attention to the body language also helps to identify any areas of weakness in a conversation. Are they fidgeting? Looking away? Holding their hands together? All of these are signs that the person may not be feeling completely comfortable with the topic of discussion. This could be a good time to change the subject, ask them a question, or otherwise help them feel more relaxed.
Don’t Just Hear, Absorb What Is Being Said
Concentrating on the words being said can be a challenge, especially if a conversation partner is nervous or stressed. The best way to become a better listener is to do more than hear the words; you have to absorb them. This means that you are processing what the other person is trying to say as they say it. It is different than just hearing the words because you are actively trying to make sense of what they are saying. This can be hard to do when you’re busy trying to take notes or keep up with the conversation, so consider setting those things aside if you find yourself struggling. Try to be in the present moment and focus on what the other person is saying instead of what you are planning to say next.
Summarize What You Heard
This is a great way to show that you have been listening and that you have absorbed what the other person has been saying. It can also help you clarify anything that you may have missed or forgotten as you speak. You don’t want to interrupt the other person or make them feel like you’re trying to finish their sentences for them. However, summarizing their points as you hear them can be a great way to show that you have been listening and have retained their message. If you need to, you can summarize as they are talking or wait until they are finished and then offer up your own words as a summary. When you make the summary be sure that you are sticking to their exact words.
Ask Questions and Paraphrase
Asking questions is a great way to show that you are listening, but it can also help you clarify points or statements that you may have missed. Make sure that you aren’t asking questions just to finish their sentences for them, but rather to seek more information. If you are not sure that you understand what the person is saying, use open-ended questions to clarify. Paraphrasing is another great way to show that you have been listening. You can do this in a variety of ways, such as by summarizing what the person has said so far, but restating it in your own words. You can also offer a summary of what they said but restate it in your own words. This can help you clarify your thoughts and show that you have been paying attention.
Listening is a learned skill, not a natural ability, so it takes practice to master it. Try these strategies to become a better listener and make communication easier for everyone around you!