12 Tips to Increase Your Active Listening Power

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active listening.There have been times when I failed to listen to a person talking to me, because I was already thinking of a reply, even though the person had not yet finished their thoughts. I have also zoned out into my own little world during conversations.

I was simply not accepting the value being offered by the person speaking to me. For instance how many times have you been introduced to a person by name, only to forget their name thirty seconds later?

This happens because you are not actively listening.

“Listening is one of the most important skills you can have. How well you listen has a major impact on your job effectiveness, and on the quality of your relationships with others.”

dyk active listening.

http://www.mindtools.com/

Active listening is the power of listening for value. To gain value from the words of another person, we have to develop our active listening skills.

When active listening is not used communication suffers and can lead to missed opportunities. These could be opportunities that are valuable for your life optimization journey!

Active listening encourages you to open up, reduces the chance of misunderstandings, helps to resolve problems, build trust and allows you to gain value from another person.

Here’s some great tips for sharpening your active listening skills!

#1 Maintain Eye Contact

active listening eyesMake sure to have a comfortable degree of eye contact when using the power of active listening. Look into the person’s eyes and focus on what they are saying. Guys, keep your eyes up when talking to women!

Direct eye contact shows that you are interested in what the speaker is saying. Of course, this doesn’t mean never blinking or looking away, just be natural.

#2 Look for Hidden Meanings

Active listening also involves noticing the speaker’s body language, tone of voice and facial expressions. People aren’t always able to express their true feelings through words. Being a good listener means recognizing signs of when someone is trying to tell you something deeper.

For instance if you ask how they are doing and they sigh and say; “Oh, I’m doing fine”. This is a sign that they want you to dig a little deeper with another question. You would be surprised how much asking that next question can lift someone’s spirit.

 # 3 Avoid Distractions

distractions active listeningTrying to listen actively when there are distractions is difficult. Turn off the TV, switch off the radio, power down your phone, stop reading, stop writing, and just pay attention. Concentrate on what the person is trying to say to you.

You should also encourage the speaker to stop any distracting activities. This assures effective communication and allows both parties to gain value.

#4 Show Interest

You can show that you are truly interested in what a person is saying by inserting a few nods or other nonverbal cues. You can also say “I understand” or “I see” or offer other low key responses every so often. But don’t overdo it! You can take the focus off of the speaker and put it on yourself.

You can also ask other questions, provided they do not interrupt the flow of the speaker’s thoughts. Remember you are using your power of active listening!

#5 Focus Completely on the Speaker

Active listening means fighting the temptation to think about what you are going to say while they are speaking. I know this can be difficult, especially when the speaker says something that you want to respond to right away. We feel that we may forget our thought by the time they finish speaking.

To keep your thought try remembering just one keyword instead of planning your complete response. For instance if they mention a movie that you like, just remember the star’s name and not the whole movie plot. The conversation will usually flow naturally once the speaker has finished, so just use your power of active listening and the rest will take care of its self!

#6 Stay Present to the Moment

business-man-dreaming active listeningConcentrate on what is being communicated to you and don’t let your thoughts wonder. When you catch yourself thinking of other things immediately refocus your thoughts on the speaker. Do this as often as needed.

Your ability to stay present to the moment will improve with practice. It might help to try repeating their words mentally as they say them. Perfect active listening practice makes perfect active listening!

#7 Active Listening with Empathy

This will help you take more of an interest. You show empathy by remembering a time when your emotions were similar to the speaker’s, and think about how you felt. If you don’t have a similar memory just show your acceptance of the situation by trying to understand what they are going through.

#8 Keep an Open-Mind

Don’t prejudge the speaker. Even when they begin with a comment that you don’t agree with, wait until they have finished before making any decisions. Some people are not able to effectively express themselves in the first few words.

What they say next may shine a whole new light on the conversation. Be patient and don’t assume. Preconceptions will derail meaningful communication, which makes active listening harder for both parties.

#9 It’s Not About You!

man_in_dark_room-active listeningTry not to interject stories about yourself into the conversation, unless asked by the speaker. This usually happens when a speaker says something that triggers a memory of your own experience.

Instead of helping; it usually takes the conversation off topic and puts the focus on you, which causes the speaker to lose their train of thought. Active listening involves keeping the focus on the speaker and what they are communicating to you.

#10 Silence is Golden

Active listening requires that you take time to take in what you’ve heard. Think about it, and then respond. Commenting instantly gives the impression that you’ve been coming up with a response instead of listening.

Give the speaker a chance to breath. They may only have paused to clarify their thoughts, and need that silence to think. If they want you to comment, they’ll let you know by asking: “What do you think?” or “What would you do?”

# 11 Practice E.I.

Being aware of your emotional intelligence is an important part of active listening. While your emotions can aid in active listening by creating empathy, they can also hamper communication if they cause you to have negative thoughts and speak out of turn.

This can turn a meaningful conversation into an argument, which is detrimental to both parties. Having negative thoughts will hinder your active listening power, which will come across to the speaker in your body language.

You can avoid this situation by being emotionally intelligent. This means accepting that your emotions can affect your listening abilities, if you let them. Keep your emotions under control and respond when the speaker has finished.

#12 Make Sure You Understand

Active listening involves understanding what is being communicated to you. Demonstrate to the speaker that you are really listening by making an effort to understand their thoughts. Asking appropriate questions will help you genuinely understand what they are saying.

This is simply a matter of asking clarifying questions, and may involve repeating part of what you’ve heard. Start off with: “So I am right in thinking …” or “Let me just clarify …” or “So are you saying …”

Anyone interested in improving their communication skills should work on increasing their active listening power. Active listening differs greatly from normal listening and leads to more meaningful and effective communication.

hearing-active listeningActive listening is not some secret power reserved for superheroes; it’s a key life optimization skill anyone can master if they are willing to accept their current need for improvement, and make the effort required to gain the skill.

Only when you begin to truly practice active listening will you realize just how much you were missing out on previously!

I would love your feedback! Which one of these active listening tips can you put into practice right away?

Until next time,

 

active listening

 

 

barry@thepersonalizationlife.com

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