Updated: Sep 11, 2021
Let's cut to the chase. Listening is an undervalued skill that many fail to recognize as essential.
Do you ever notice your mind is busy thinking of an answer before the other is done with their sentence?
Or maybe, you are someone who frequently cuts off or finishes people's sentences?
Either way, you are missing out on genuine connection by continuing these patterns.
Suppose you commit to the practice of listening. In that case, you will notice your relationships will deepen, you will learn more about the person you are talking to, and you will experience a greater sense of personal wellness.
Yes, that is correct. You will directly benefit from listening!
Here are five ways to you can practicing listening more effectively:
Set the intention to listen
Setting an intention is a powerful way to shift focus. For example, if someone starts talking to you or you are about to move into a conversation, gently say to yourself, "It is time to listen now."
Intention helps you notice and start to exercise the listening muscle.
Sometimes the pattern of 'not listening' is so deeply rooted that it will take some time to begin to listen effectively. By setting an intention, you are programming your mind to look for when you are not listening and allow you to bring yourself back to the conversation gently.
The world is becoming more and more technologically advanced, and I don't think there is any question about that. However, there comes a price to this technology. Notifications, pings and vibrations are constantly distracting us from the moment.
When moving into a conversation, make a point in turning off your notifications, including the vibrate feature.
Yes, even this somewhat silent notification can distract you from listening, so do yourself and your conversational partner a favour and eliminate those distractions.
Take three deep cleansing breaths
There is no better way to connect to the present moment than by connecting with your breathing.
Breathe deeply in through your nose; exhale gently through your mouth. Do this three times.
This breath pattern will relax the nervous system and allow you to become more present.
Understand that communication is speaking plus listening plus your body language
The art of communication can get quite complex, but we can focus on learning when we understand the components of effective communication.
You are constantly telling a story with your facial expressions, body movements and posture. The speaker is interpreting these gestures and determining whether they feel heard or not.
Using your body and gestures to show that you listen when appropriate is beautiful to show the person you care. A hand touch during a tender moment with a loved one, the pat of a shoulder or back when encouragement is needed can be powerful ways to show you are listening.
Of course, these gestures will be specific to the situation and require some discernment, but when used appropriately, they can be a powerful way to deepen your listening.
Save your questions for after
There is a tendency to want to ask questions as someone is talking. Asking questions is a powerful way to understand someone fully, but it can sometimes interrupt the flow of their thoughts and confuse what they are trying to express.
This practice can leave someone feeling not heard.
By saving your questions until the end of the thought or conversation, your conversation partner will be able to finish their thoughts and feel heard.
Asking questions at the end of a conversation shows how you were listening. Start by repeating what they said, like "When you said 'x,' it made me want to know more about what you meant by that?"
Can you hear the power in saving your questions until the end?
Learning how to listen will transform your relationships.