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9 Ways To Become A Better Listener

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The act of listening is an essential part of any communication.


The person speaking will be more trusting and willing to open up to the person actively listening because they feel more validated. 


It's important to be a good listener to retain more information, better understand what is being said, and offer help to someone in need.


However, being a good listener doesn't come naturally to everyone


Like any skill, it takes time and practice to hone your abilities. 


Sometimes you do not know how to respond in certain situations, such as when you're trying to support someone grieving or in pain. 


Several resources like: https://jacksonhousecares.com/blog/posts/2022/september/what-to-do-when-someone-you-love-talks-about-suicide/ help you understand and prepare during tough conversations.


If you're here to learn how to become a better listener, you've come to the right place. Here are some tips to get you started on becoming a better listener:


9 Ways To Become A Better Listener


#1. Pay More Attention


This one may seem like a no-brainer, but you'd be surprised how often people only half-listen to the person speaking to them. 


When you're giving someone your full attention, you're more likely to catch essential details and better understand the conversation as a whole.


According to studies, the average human attention span declined to 8 seconds in recent years from 12 seconds in 2000. That's shorter than a goldfish's attention span, which is 9 seconds.


In order to become better listeners, people have to work on holding attention and being more interested in what others have to say.


#2. Minimize Distractions As Much As Possible


Another essential point to becoming a better listener is understanding the need to minimize distractions as much as possible. You can make simple gestures such as:


  • Turning off your phone
  • Putting away any other electronics
  • Making sure you're in a quiet and secure place where you won't be interrupted

It can be difficult to give someone your full attention if distractions surround you, so it's essential to do everything you can to minimize them. 


There will be times when you can't avoid distractions completely, but by making an effort to reduce them, you'll become a better listener.


#3. Ask More Questions Than You Think You Need


Many fear asking questions because it might send the wrong message that they're not listening or paying enough attention. However, it's actually the other way around in communication. 


Don't be afraid to ask questions if you're unsure about something that was said. 


Asking for clarification shows that you're engaged in the conversation and want to fully understand the other person's point of view.


#4. Repeat Back What You Heard


Once the other person has finished speaking, take a moment to repeat back what you heard them say. It will help solidify the information in your mind and let the other person know you're paying attention and that you understand their perspective.


It can also be helpful to use phrases like, "So what I'm hearing you say is..." or "It sounds like you're feeling..." to show you're listening and you understand. 


This practice can be a key part of active listening and help build trust and rapport. 


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#5. Never, Ever Interrupt


Interrupting someone mid-sentence not only comes across as rude but also prevents you from hearing the whole story.


If you can, wait until the other person has finished speaking before you jump in with your own thoughts or comments.


It doesn't mean you can't ask questions as the other person is talking. In fact, this can be a great way to show that you're engaged in the conversation. 


Just make sure that you're not interrupting to take the conversation in a different direction.


By letting the other person finish their thoughts, you can ensure that you understand their meaning and can respond accordingly. It can be especially important in work-related conversations, where miscommunication can easily lead to problems. 


#6. Don't Make Assumptions


Don't assume that you know what the other person will say. Assumptions can lead to you not hearing what the person is actually saying. 


Try to keep an open mind and really listen to what the other person is saying. 


One key thing to remember here is not to "put it in your own words" unless you need to. This can be challenging, but it's important to try. 


#7. Offer And Observe Nonverbal Cues


When we offer nonverbal cues that we are actively listening, it can help the speaker feel heard and understood. However, remember to offer these cues only if they come naturally to you. 


If you force yourself to offer nonverbal cues, it can come across as inauthentic and even manipulative. 


It will also help if you observe nonverbal cues from the other person. For example, if you see that the person isn't making eye contact with you, it may mean that they're not interested in what you're saying. If the person is fidgeting or seems to be in a hurry, they may want to end the conversation. 


By observing nonverbal cues, you can get a sense of how the other person feels and what they might need. 


If they seem uncomfortable, it's probably best to back off. 


But if they seem open and receptive, you can offer your help or support them through whatever they're going through.


#8. Don't Rehearse Your Response


Most people fall into the pitfall of rehearsing their response while the other person is talking. It's common in heated conversations when people are looking for the opportunity to jump in and interject their own thoughts. 


If you're focused on what you want to say next, you won't be able to give the conversation your full attention. 


Instead, focus on understanding their point of view and what they're trying to communicate. 


If you do this, you can send a message that you genuinely care. It's not all the time that the other person needs a response. 


Sometimes, all they need is someone who will listen.


#9. Monitor Your Emotions


Lastly, to be a better listener, you must master your emotions. You must control your emotions, so they don't get in the way of hearing what the other person is trying to convey.


It will be difficult to listen if you're feeling angry, frustrated, or any other negative emotion because you'll be focused on your own emotions and how you're feeling. 


Therefore, it's crucial to monitor your emotions and keep them in check when you are talking to someone, especially when you intend to offer help.


Final Thoughts


Being a better listener is not easy. It requires effort and concentration. However, they're all worth it. 


When you're a better listener, you can build better relationships, understand people better, and resolve conflicts more effectively. 


Listening is a skill that you can continue to work on throughout your life. As you become a more experienced listener, you'll likely find it easier to help a friend or a loved one. 


However, don't be discouraged if it takes some time to improve. Just keep practicing these nine tips, and eventually, you'll get better.


Hope you've enjoyed this article about becoming a better listener. 

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