Are you in doubt about how to be a better communicator? Improving your listening skills is a winning strategy. My friend Melissa gets an A+ for her listening skills. When she is listening, she gives her full undivided attention, whether it is for a few seconds or a few hours. People prize her friendship, as they feel heard and valued in her presence. What a wonderful gift!
Being a good communicator can be learned. Words have a tremendous impact on us. How many times have we disliked what was said or the way it was said? We may have felt unjustly judged or criticized. Maybe you have not felt that you were heard or taken seriously. Often we communicate the least with those with love the most.
Listen on Purpose
Start by being in the same room. Look at each other face to face. Give each other your full, undivided attention. We do not have to agree with what is said in order to listen. Value what others have to say. Why would anyone want to listen to you, if you do not first listen to them? Seek first to understand and then to be understood.
Put down the electronic devices
Turn off the TV. Shut off the cell phone. We have become very bad listeners because we do not give others our full attention. Listening is not a multi-tasking activity. Respect the speaker, whether on the phone or in person. Let the speaker know that you value what is said by being fully attentive.
Don’t make assumptions
Listen to the facts. Be careful not to make interpretations. We often become angry or upset because we say the person’s intention was to hurt us or to make us mad. That may or may not be true, but if in doubt ask for clarification. Don’t assume.
Listen with curiosity and wonder.
Listen with curiosity and wonder instead of blame and shame. Blaming is always a negative move. Phrases like, “Tell me more” and “Help me understand” are always great for clarifying what is being said.
Create a Safe Space
Value what your friends, family and spouse share with you. Never use what is shared with you against your loved one. Create a safe space for trust and intimacy to grow.
Listen with empathy
Listen not only for the content but also how the other person is feeling. How does the speaker feel about what he or she is saying? Whether or not you agree, and especially if you do not agree, take a few minutes to understand their point of view. Focus on the points of agreement instead of the points where you disagree.
Your Turn to Talk
Be clear. Be concise. Be kind. Make it easy for the listener to understand you. Do not gossip. State clearly what you want. Be worthy of trust. Let your words and actions match.
Be a Great Listener
Try it. I love doing listening workshops with groups. Participants are always amazed at how little changes can make big differences in the quality of their friendships and relationships. You are worth it!
Amelia Barnes, MBA MA LMHC coaches Baby Boomers to have clarity and confidence in who they are, what they want and the courage to make it happen. Contact Amelia at 317.688.7278 or amelia@InnerOutcomes.com.