Listening is an important component of any job. Not only do you want to make sure to pay attention, so you don’t forget important details, but you want to give the person speaking your undivided attention to show that you value their time and thoughts. With so many distractions at work such as chats, emails, phone calls, and texts, giving someone your full attention isn’t as common as it used to be. To become a better listener, it’s important to engage in active listening which “requires you to listen attentively to a speaker, understand what they’re saying, respond and reflect on what’s being said, and retain the information for later. This keeps both listener and speaker actively engaged in the conversation.” Here are a few practical tips you can use to become good at active listening.
Today, with all of the above-mentioned distractions, giving someone your full, undivided attention, is a gift in itself and shows the person respect. When someone comes to you wanting to have a conversation, you should minimize distractions as much as possible. If you need to finish what you are working on, let that person know and see if you can schedule a time to talk once you’ve wrapped that up. When having a conversation in person, or via video conference, be sure to show them that they have your full attention by facing them, sitting up straight, and maintaining regular eye contact.
Recap What They’re Saying
Throughout the conversation, recap when the timing is appropriate, to make sure you are understanding everything the way they intended. To do this, repeat their words back to them and sum up the essential points they are mentioning. According to Harvard Business Review, doing so is important because “It makes the other person feel listened to, keeps you on track during the conversation, and provides a pause for both of you to gather thoughts or recover from an emotional reaction.”
Asking questions during the conversation, will not only help the other person feel heard but can also clear up and clarify anything you may not fully understand. During the flow of the conversation, ask questions that are open and non-judgmental so the other person is inclined to share more information.
Pause Before Responding
It can be so tempting to want to jump into a conversation but with active listening, the key is to let the other person be able to finish before you say anything. Pausing once they are done and before you begin speaking, will not only ensure you’re not talking over the other person but will also give you time to think about what you’re going to say. With active listening, you want to be fully present, and not rehearsing your response in your head, so take a breath after they are finished speaking to give yourself the time to think about what you’re going to say.