In today’s high-tech, high-speed, high-stress world, communication is more important than ever, yet we seem to devote less and less time to really listening to one another.
Face the speaker and maintain eye contact
Talking to someone while they scan the room, study a computer screen, or gaze out the window is like trying to hit a moving target. How much of the person’s divided attention you are actually getting? Fifty percent? Five percent? If the person were your child you might demand, “Look at me when I’m talking to you,” but that’s not the sort of thing we say to a lover, friend or colleague.
Be attentive, but relaxed
Now that you’ve made eye contact, relax. You don’t have to stare fixedly at the other person. You can look away now and then and carry on like a normal person. The important thing is to be attentive. Mentally screen out distractions, like background activity and noise. In addition, try not to focus on the speaker’s accent or speech mannerisms to the point where they become distractions.
Keep an open mind
Listen without judging the other person or mentally criticizing the things she tells you. If what she says alarms you, go ahead and feel alarmed, but don’t say to yourself, “Well, that was a stupid move.” As soon as you indulge in judgmental bemusements, you’ve compromised your effectiveness as a listener. Listen without jumping to conclusions. Remember that the speaker is using language to represent the thoughts and feelings inside her brain. You don’t know what those thoughts and feelings are and the only way you’ll find out is by listening. —Forbes