One of the best New Year’s resolutions that you can make this year is to improve your active listening skills. It’s okay if you’re not a good listener. Anyone can improve with a little awareness and practice. Once mastered, this valuable communication tool will go a long way in improving any relationship – whether it’s romantic or professional, or family. Practice active listening so you can be supportive for your friends and they may return the kind gesture.
Have you ever been in a conversation and realized that the other person was just waiting for you to stop talking so they could talk? Have you ever had an interaction where it seemed like the other person only wanted your attention because they were bored or lonely? Most of us have experienced this and it can be awful.
You probably understand how hurtful and frustrating it can be when someone does not have good active listening skills. Non-active listeners may miss important information or only hear half of the conversation because they’re looking for an opportunity to talk. Active listening is not just about listening to what the other person says, but also observing their nonverbal cues and understanding how they feel.
What is Active Listening?
Active listening is a way of listening that lets others know you’re engaged. It is a skill that can be practiced in any relationship. It involves using words, body language, and even questions to demonstrate you’re really paying attention. Practicing active listening skills on the job or at home will improve your relationships with others by making them feel heard—a powerful tool for anyone looking to strengthen their connection.
In order to really listen, we need to make sure we’re fully engaged with what’s being said by asking questions, summarizing points as they are made, and not making judgements or assumptions about the person we are listening to.
The Importance of Listening Skills
Active listening is about showing that you care and are willing to really hear what someone has to say. This type of communication fosters trust and security which makes it easier to establish or maintain a relationship. Active listening requires more than just sitting there and nodding as someone speaks. You can test your listening skills using the Mind Tools quiz. Remember this is a skill that anyone can practice and improve.
Tips to Improve Your Active Listening Skills
You may not be a naturally good listener. But it’s never too late to learn! Active listening is something that can be practiced and improved with awareness of your own habits, as well as some patience and practice.
- Remove any distractions. Don’t be distracted by your phone, television, or other people. If you are in a busy or loud setting, you should find a quiet place to talk.
- Show you are listening with your body language.
- Make eye contact
- Give feedback to show you’re listening. Paraphrase what the person is saying to show the you understand their message. Ask questions if you are unsure.
- Do not give any advice or make judgements. Instead practice using the following phrases until you get into the habit.
Active Listening Skills Examples
What does active listening sound like? Good listeners are mostly silent because they are encouraging the other person to talk. However, asking questions for clarification is a great way to show that you are hearing what the person is saying and feeling their pain. Here are some phrases you can commit to memory to improve your active listening skills.
- “Tell me more.”
- “How does that make you feel?”
- “What has that been like for you?”
- “Is there more you want to tell me?”
- “It sounds like you feel…”
- “It seems like you need…”
- “It’s important to you that…”
- “Your experience is that…”
- “Has something like this happened before? What helped you get through it?”
We all know that relationships are important. They provide us with a sense of belonging and security, which is why it’s so crucial for people to be good listeners in their relationships. You may think you don’t have time or energy to make your listening skills better but the benefits will pay off long-term. It’s also one of the best ways to support a grieving friend or family member. For more ideas for comforting a bereaved loved one go here.