There are a multitude of classes on being an effective speaker. How to speak up. How to enunciate your words. Proper word choices. When was the last time you heard of a class to teach people how to listen.
The hardest part in any conversation is the role of listener. Listening takes discipline and focus. Anyone can talk. Very few people listen.
One of the best ways to develop better relationships is to develop the ability to listen. To actively engage the other person. Here are a few quick tips.
- Be Quiet.
You cannot listen if you are talking. Even worse, you cannot listen if you are thinking about what to say. Listen to understand. If you do not understand, ask questions.
- Repeat the Talker’s Main Points
When it is your turn, obtain confirmation on what you heard. People are used to being ignored. When you actively engage a person, they will be willing to invest their time with you.
- Remove your filters.
Drop your assumptions. We enter all conversations with predefined filters about the person. Accept the person as is. Try to understand what they are talking about. It is OK to explore and understand an idea even though you do not agree with it.
Listening is a muscle many people do not exercise. It will take time to fully develop your ability to listen.