Listening is not the same as hearing. Hearing refers to the sounds that enter your ears. It is a physical process that happens on its own.
Listening is the ability to accurately receive and interpret messages in the communication process. A good listener will listen not only to what is being said but also to what is left untold or only partially said.
Therefore, effective listening involves observing body language and noticing discrepancies between verbal and non-verbal messages, as well as what is being said at any given time.
So listening is not only a matter of using your ears but the eyes as well.
You must practice the following tips to be an effective listener-
1. Relax yourself to focus on the speaker.
Get other things out of your mind. The human mind is easily distracted by other thoughts – I’m late for the office, don’t know what to make for the evening meal, the boss’ mood at the office. Try to get such thoughts out of the mind and focus on the messages that are being communicated.
To understand ideas is to have the ability to put together pieces of complete information, not just words. With proper concentration, and letting go of distractions, focusing becomes easier.
2. Stop talking, do not interrupt–
When someone else is talking, do not interrupt, listen carefully to what they are saying. When the other person has finished talking, you should clarify to make sure you got their message across correctly.
3. Be mindful of your gestures-
Help the speaker speak freely, Be mindful of your own gestures. Be careful with your own gestures-
Gestures, facial expressions and eye movements can all be important. We hear not only with our ears but also with our eyes – seeing and picking up on additional information that is transmitted through non-verbal communication.
Nod or use other gestures or words to encourage them to continue. Maintain eye contact but do not stare. Show that you are listening and understand what the speaker is saying.
4 Try to understand the other person’s point of view-
Look at the matter from their point of view. Let go of preconceived ideas. With an open mind, we can fully empathize with the speaker. If the speaker says something that you disagree with, wait and devise an argument to respectfully oppose what has been said.
Keep an open mind towards the thoughts and ideas of others because sometimes you will get to see a new perspective on the opposite views of others.
5 Be patient–
Don’t be irritable and don’t let the person’s habits or mannerisms distract you from what the speaker is actually saying. Everyone’s way of speaking is different. Some people are more nervous or shy than others, some have a regional accent or they shake hands excessively. Some people like to move while talking – others like to sit still. A pause, even a long pause, does not necessarily mean that the speaker is finished. You need to be patient in listening to different people from all walks of life so you don’t interrupt. Accept them as they are.
To be an effective listener, you need to be patient and focused on other people’s perspectives. A successful person is an effective listener.
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