The active listening technique is the purposeful listening of a person, with an emphasis on understanding what he is trying to tell us. Unfortunately, we rarely learn this technique. And even those people who need it for work or for establishing a relationship do not resort to active listening. After all, this requires some effort and work on oneself. And it’s easier for us to return to a passive mode, just hearing the words of a person, but not trying to understand the meaning that he is trying to convey.
What active listening looks like
Active listening techniques have common features, including:
- Be unbiased;
- Be curious;
- Show patience;
- To ask questions;
- Ask for clarification;
- Summarize the conversation.
What are the results of active listening
- You get the trust of the person;
- Understand the meaning behind a person’s intentions;
- You can offer the help and support you need;
- You can clearly see the needs and desires of the speaker;
- Show respect for the person;
- You can get sincere answers to questions that interest you.
What Happens When We Don’t Apply Active Listening Technique
Before we discuss how to properly listen to a person, it would be helpful to examine our standard behavior. It is sad, but in today’s busy society, we rarely give due attention to any particular activity. We have become obsessed with the practice of multitasking. We are so determined to be productive that we try to listen and perform other tasks at the same time. As a result, we are unable to cope with anything. And even when we are not trying to complete many tasks, we are often distracted from work and from communicating with a person. We are unable to maintain eye contact by demonstrating our attention. In short, many people do not engage in conversations at all and do not practice active listening.
We also tend to focus our attention on formulating the answer for the person. And instead of concentrating on his words, we often don’t even let the person finish expressing their thoughts. We interrupt it and begin to express our own opinions and ideas. We can even finish his sentences, just to show our ego. In such situations, we are not so much listening as preparing to demonstrate what we think or know about the subject of the conversation.
While personal conversations can be a little tricky. Talking on the phone provides more options. Hence, it is more tempting to do multiple tasks at once. How many times have you talked to someone on the phone, heard the keyboard click, and realized that the other person was distracted? That he doesn’t pay attention to what you tell him? How did you feel at that moment knowing that the other person considered something more important than talking to you?
Benefits of Active Listening Technique
So what is the use when we put in the extra effort to listen carefully to the person? In short, the active listening technique gives you a better understanding of the conversation and improves relationships with people. At its most basic level, more active listening means that you are actually communicating with the person. When both parties in a conversation practice active listening, then each person will hear and understand the other person’s position. You cannot have good communication when one or both parties do not pay due attention to the words spoken and the meaning behind them.
Good communication is also the foundation for a good relationship. When you really listen, you show respect for the other person. This simple action builds trust and brings people closer together. Listening carefully makes people open up. They feel they are heard and understood. And your attention makes them feel valued and respected. When people feel that someone is really listening to them, they are more willing to share their real feelings and thoughts. They become more sincere and open.
Active listening techniques can also help resolve conflicts and disagreements. When we calmly and respectfully discuss areas where we disagree, we can better understand the other person’s point of view. Although we may disagree with his opinion. But at least we understand their reasoning. Knowing what a person really thinks about and what he wants. Helps us to better understand him, and get rid of feelings of anger or resentment.
Active listening technique and its practice
1. Focus on the subject of the conversation
When talking to a person, or when talking one-on-one in a group, fully focus on the subject you are discussing. If you notice that you are losing focus and start thinking about something else, then tell yourself “not now” or “I will think about it later.” Then return your attention to the speaker. You can write down one or two keywords on paper that you want to talk about. And you can calmly return to the conversation without worrying about forgetting your thought.
2. Resist temptation and distraction
Focus on the person who is speaking and what they are saying. Often our attention is distracted by what is happening around us. At a person passing by, for another conversation, or for some other activity. All people are distracted. But as soon as you start to become aware of this trend. It becomes easier for you to recognize when your attention starts to wane and you can focus on the conversation again. Ignoring distractions can seem daunting, but you can do better with practice. If you know you are easily distracted, you can also take steps to minimize these factors. You can choose a time and place for the conversation away from windows. Or, sit with your back to any potential distractions.
3. Focus on the conversation
Concentrate on the dynamics of the conversation, not on what needs to be said. Don’t think ahead of time about your answer. Maintain regular eye contact and gaze into the person’s eyes. Be involved in the conversation, face the speaker. And use your body language to show that you are listening. You can lean forward, nod your head, and smile. Or, make certain gestures with an open palm to continue the conversation.
4. Take your time to answer
Before you start answering. Always give the person time to finish their sentence. Form a habit of silently counting to three before speaking your thoughts.
5. Express gratitude.
When you speak, be grateful for his point of view. This does not mean that you have to agree with everything. Just show that you value the person’s point of view.
6. Ask more questions
Finally, learn to ask questions and be interested in the topic of conversation. Just do it in a calm tone. If you ask questions in a hostile or derisive tone. Then the other person will begin to defend himself, and may even get angry. And when emotions take over, it can be difficult for us to exchange ideas and understanding the conversation becomes impossible. Although these methods require some effort, they become familiar over time and through practice. So if you want to improve your relationships at home, at work, or in the community, learn to listen actively. It will improve every aspect of your life.