7 ways to listen better

4 min read

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One of the 100 ways to experience more joy and happiness is to listen.  A translation of listening into Latin is “audire”. It means the ability to hear and hearing clearly. It is more than sitting back and boarding your own train of thought while someone talks to you . It requires an action from you.

How do you become a better listener?

Here are 7 ways:

1. Choose the right moment
Timing is important. It’s hard to listen when many seek your attention or when you have a lot on your own mind. When you want to listen to someone, make time! Set an appointment if you need more time to listen.

2. Shut down outer distractions
This is a no brainer but I am sure you’re still glancing at your phone, clock or computer screen when you’re listening to someone. Especially if the other needs more time (& words) to tell you something. So put your phone aside (better switch it off completely or put it in the no disturb ? status). When I am listening, I also switch off my screen or close my laptop. When in an office, you can close the door. Some of you have important responsibilities and have to be available all the time (is that really true?). With your assistant for example you can agree on a code phrase when you really need to be interrupted.

3. Shut down inner distractions
When you’re listening, your train of thought gets into motion: You will have an opinion or you want to share your experiences. When listening, it’s not about you but it’s all about the other one. So refrain from talking. Just ask questions (see 4). How do stop this train of thought? Imagine it stopping at a railway station or imagine pressing a pause button. The train of thought can be resumed at a later time. I have an urge to take notes while listening. This distracts as well. Notes can be made afterwards. If an action of your part is required you can quickly jot this down.

4. Be aware of body language
You can also listen with your eyes to become a better listener. What is the other saying to you with his or her body? Is there eye contact and are they sparkling? Are arms and legs crossed? Is he or she tapping with the fingers? Body language is an addition to the words from the mouth. It can emphasize, conceal or just make clear what has been said.

5. Rephrase, summarize and ask questions
Can’t refrain from talking? By rephrasing, summarizing and asking questions, you’re helping the other by making sure you’ve understood clearly and checking if the other hasn’t forgotten an important detail of the message. It also helps you to remember something so you don’t have to take notes.

6. Lean in, but not too much
If you really want to make a connection, you can do this by creating rapport. You can copy certain (positive) body language such as nodding, smiling, crossing your own arms, leaning forwards or backwards. Leaning in too much can be interpreted as fake and just an act. It takes away the authenticity (see 7). Be aware of this.

7. Stay curious…
and genuinely interested. The other will feel free to talk to you. You can learn, laugh or enjoy from a good story. If not, reschedule (see 1) or end the meeting .

Which of the above ways do you like or works best for you? What are your ways to be a good listener? Let me know. I am curious!

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