In today’s world of stimulation and bombardment from all channels, the skill of listening seems to be a rarity. With a few simple reflections on the idea, you too can LEAPP into listening (listen, empathize, ask, position, and practice).
The first tip is exactly just that… Listen, and don’t talk.
When people tell us something about their life or what’s going on for them mentally or emotionally, it can be tempting to share similar thoughts or experiences with them, but that already starts to place a little bit of our own ego into the conversation, which detracts from hearing what the other person is trying to say.
Try to drop all of your notions about the topic unless the speaker is asking you for help or advice.Think about how the other person feels. Try restating their point of view, and asking if you understood them correctly.
Follow that up by validating their feelings, and consider if the time is appropriate to offer advice or respond. Sometimes people only want validation, nothing more.
Ask follow up questions to delve deeper into the topic they’re sharing and let them know that you’re engaged. If you’re truly listening, questions may generate themselves. You may eventually grow tired of asking questions, and that’s okay.
Depending on the person, they may only be able to tolerate a certain amount of curiosity anyway before it becomes burdensome. In any case, asking questions shows that you are an active participant in what they are sharing.
Face the person you are talking to. Maintain eye contact for as long as you feel appropriate—you will have to gauge this based on the situation.
A romantic dinner might call for lots of eye gazing, but a business meeting with a potential client can feel like an invasive stare-down if you’re locking pupils for the same amount of time.
Either way, don’t fidget, check your phone, or make other indicators that you’re not paying attention. Relax and put away the need to rush off somewhere else.
Good Listening is a skill that requires practice and polish, just like any other. Some of the skills related to listening (empathy, curiosity, and attentiveness) do not come naturally, and can be hard to bring to the table, even for skilled listeners, when you are distracted, stressed, or upset with what the other person is sharing.
Just remember that good listening is a highly respected skill, and will make the people around you feel very appreciated and happy to know you.
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