Being deemed as a “good listener” is one of the best qualities one can have.People who are good listeners are often empathetic, understanding and focused. They are able to set aside their own personal distractions and problems for a time being and devote their attention to someone else’s issues or stories. A good listener is usually more personable and peers may feel more comfortable around them.
Being an active listener is important in all different aspects of life.
It is important in our personal lives – your friends and family will know that they can come to you to vent or talk and that they will have your full attention. It is also important in the sense of receiving support – if you are a good listener for others, they may be more willing to be a good listener for you when you need to talk. If you seem distracted constantly or like you can’t be bothered, it is less likely people will give you the respect of listening back.
It is important in your career. You have to be able to fully listen to instructions, listen to what your boss is saying and listen to other colleagues. Coming across as uninterested or distracted at work can lead not only to careless mistakes, but also can create a poor reputation for yourself amongst your peers.
Good listening can even make a difference in schedules and your time. Progressive Conflict Solutions reports that there was a 30% “reduction in office visits by chronically ill patients after they have been listened to for 15-30 minutes.”
In any facet, giving one designated time to just speak their thoughts with an active listener is beneficial to both parties.
So, how can we become better listeners?
Put away any distractions while engaging in a conversation. This includes your phone, a laptop or anything you tend to fidget with. Remove anything unnecessary that takes your attention, and then draw that attention to the person speaking. Progressive Conflict Solutions reports that the “amount of the time we are distracted, preoccupied or forgetful when listening” is 75%. If we can reduce that percentage by simply removing some of those distractions, we are off to a good start.
Make consistent eye contact. Have you ever been in a situation where you are opening up to someone, but they seem to be looking at everything else in the room but you? It’s not a great feeling. It comes across as uninterested – like they don’t really care about what you have to say. By using direct eye contact, you send a nonverbal cue that the person speaking has your full attention.
Try to go into conversations open-minded. Being a good listener involves really hearing what the person has to say. If you go into a conversation already against what you think the person will say, you are not going to want to listen. Allow yourself to be open to being wrong and open to changing your opinion. There is nothing wrong with that!
For some, listening can be a challenge due to a disability, such as those who are hard-of-hearing or someone diagnosed with ADHD. For example, people with ADHD may tend to fidget a lot or get distracted easier. If this is the case, communicate with the other person verbally that you are listening, and tell them what helps you to stay focused. They should understand and know they still have your attention, even if at times it may not seem like it.
Becoming an active listener takes time and practice. Use these techniques to help yourself fully engage. Remember that being a good listener to others often attracts good listeners to you.