One of the key barriers to effective communication is lack of listening skills. Listening with complete concentration and empathy is the key to success in communication. Therefore, if you need to develop good communications skills, you need to focus on developing excellent listening skills. What are the essential elements of listening skills?
Develop an interest in others’ views: You are entitled to your opinion just as much as others are entitled to theirs. When listening to others you need to keep your ego and prejudices at bay and direct your attention to the speaker. Have an open mind and develop a genuine interest in what the other person has to say, and you will automatically become a good listener.
Focus: Focus on what the other person is saying instead of letting your thoughts wander. Always listen with the view that you will miss out important information if you do not direct your complete attention on the speaker. Make an effort not to be distracted by other thoughts or movements around you.
Refrain from interrupting unnecessarily: While supplementing a conversation with your views or asking questions is appreciated, allows the speaker to complete his statement. Make a mental note of what you wish to ask or say and voice it only after the speaker has finished his speaking. Interrupting people while they are speaking is not only rude but also disturbs their train of thought.
Pay attention to your body language: A lot of communication is non-verbal. Therefore, you need to pay attention to your body language and that of the speaker while engaging in a conversation. Avoid fidgeting with your hands, tapping your foot or rearranging papers on your desk, as these actions indicate your disinterest in the conversation. You need to use your eyes and ears in tandem and maintain eye contact while listening. An occasional nod of the head will indicate your acceptance and interest.
Exercise patience: It is not always easy to wait until the speaker completes his sentence; which in some cases could be unduly long or provocative. Refrain from judging prematurely and wait for the speaker to finish. Don’t indulge in needless arguments and rebuttals which leave a bad taste.
As someone has said, “Listening broadens us, lays the groundwork for peace, elevates the quality of our relationships, and opens the way to success. If nothing else, listening will make you the most popular person in the room. Happy listening!