Listening is an important part of our lives. We listen for information. We listen for enjoyment. We listen to learn things. We listen to understand someone. We do all of the above almost every day. However, are you a really good listener?
What makes a good listener?
A good listener is someone who can reliably absorb information of what someone has to say. They actively listen to someone closely, being with them. A good listener can read someone's emotion just by really paying attention to their voice tone and the way they talk about a particular subject of a story. A good listener can get the commitment behind what that person wants and really care about.
So, how do you do all of that?
The first thing you want to do is to clear your head and be present to what is going on around you. A lot of times, the little voice in your head prevents you from being with someone and just listening.
What is that little voice?
The little voice is that talking 'machine' in your brain that has an opinion on everything. This voice interprets information based on your past experiences and gives you an opinion based on these past experiences. If you let that voice dominate your listening, you are no longer being with that person. The more conscious you are with that little voice, the less you can focus on what someone has to say.
You have to create a space for listening. Block any opinions you have about the person you are listening to keep the space open. Pay attention to the voice tone. Is he or she excited? What are you getting from the person's sharing? Can you get what the person is concerned about?
Occasionally repeat after what they say
Sometimes, you will want to repeat what they say. It shows they are being heard. If you can describe their emotions and get what they really feel, you will be surprised how much they love talking to you.
Mirror their body language and energy
If you can mirror their body language and match their energy levels, you can connect with them better as well. Do not mirror their actions immediately. Gradually sink into it. If they are super excited, speak to them with a similarly excited tone.
Active listening requires practice. As you practice more, it becomes easier to stay focused and be in the moment when someone is talking. This is going to help improve your connection with people as well. After all, people love to be heard. Mastering this skill is absolutely invaluable.