Who does not want to become a better listener? As the American psychiatrist Karl A. Menninger said, “Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. The friends who listen to us are the ones we move toward. When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand.”
In this fast-paced 21st century, communication greatly suffers as few people take time to sit down for a real conversation. Specifically, the major communication gaps arise when everyone speaks, but no one listens, thereby rendering the notion of sharing thoughts and sentiments obsolete.
As Stephen R. Covey said, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Being a good listener is vital to developing excellent communication skills that make you stand out in the crowd. But how do you become someone who really listens?
Michael P. Nichols sheds some light in his book, The Lost Art of Listening, on how to become a better listener. His witty and relatable work offers practical exercises, easy techniques, and empathic examples on the art of listening.
Michael’s book teaches how to listen effectively without letting emotional reactions block the communication flow between you and your interlocutor. This book is a must-read if you want to communicate better and become a better listener.
Additionally, research suggests that an average person hears between 20,000 to 30,000 words in a day. But do people process these words?
For example, CreditDonkey conducted a survey and found that though people spend around 70%-80% of their time communicating and 55% on listening, only 17%- 25% of information is absorbed. Do you see the problem?
Tips on how to become a better listener
Do you want to become an effective listener who cares? Here’s where you should start.
- Do not listen to be polite, but pay attention and process key information.
- Make your interlocutor the center of your attention.
- Maintain proper eye contact and pay attention to non-verbal signs such as facial expression and body language.
- Do not interrupt with premature solutions or irrelevant questions.
- Be comfortable with silence.
- Ask clarifying questions as necessary only when your interlocutor pauses or has finished his or her thoughts.
- Keep your questions or comments short.
- Overall, resist the urge to hijack the conversion or to make it about you.
In sum, using your listening skills effectively might increase your learning. As the famous journalist, Larry King said, “I remind myself every morning: Nothing I say this day will teach me anything. So if I’m going to learn, I must do it by listening.”
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