Genuine listening has become a rare gift. At work, effective listening means fewer errors and less wasted time. At home, it helps develop resourceful, self-reliant kids who can solve their own problems. Listening builds friendships and careers. It saves money and marriages. Here are some tips to help you develop effective listening skills.
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?
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.
Keep an open mind
Listen without judging the other person or mentally criticizing the things she tells you. As soon as you indulge in judgmental bemusements, you’ve compromised your effectiveness as a listener.
Wait for the speaker to pause to ask clarifying questions
When you don’t understand something, of course you should ask the speaker to explain it to you. But rather than interrupt, wait until the speaker pauses.