The most important communication skill you can ever learn is how to listen effectively. Only through listening can you understand another person’s point of view and then effectively navigate through your differences.
Being born with ears doesn’t necessarily make us skilled listeners, so here’s some quick tips for effective listening:
The way we hold our body can have an effect on not only how we are feeling, but how others perceive us. For example, if you slump over, look at the ground and grunt a little, then chances are you’ll start to feel quite down. Others will look at you and think “oh, they look a little grumpy” or something similar.
A good listener, faces their body towards whoever is talking to them and makes eye contact. Watching my step-dad talking to my son a few weeks back, I thought my son was being quite disrespectful to his grandfather because he wasn’t looking at him. After chatting to him later, he just didn’t realise that a way to show that he was interested was to actually look in the direction of the person talking. It’s a small thing that can make a really massive difference.
Advanced Body Language
If you want to take your listening to expert level, increase rapport with who you are talking to by adjusting your body position to match or be similar to the person you are listening to. Rapport is the ability to have a close bond (or the perception of a close bond) with another person. Natural rapport happens between people with similar likes, but rapport can also be created by acting more like the other person you’re communicating with. Subtly sitting or standing like they are, will cause you to focus in a different kind of way, it will help keep all of your attention on the person whom you are listening to, and whatever we put our attention on more fully will increase our awareness and understanding.
Seems obvious, but what if you concentrated on what the other person was saying, like it was a life or death moment?
How much attention can you give? The bonus of really focusing means that we can spend less time trying to come up with, and rehearsing in our heads what we want to say. Just concentrate! You’ll find that things will come easily if you’ve really listened, and if you need a moment to think before responding, just say “hmmm, let me think about that a second.” Easy.
So, there we have it, next time you'te hanging around with your parents and they start talking, try it. See if by really listening, you can increase your understanding of them, and who knows, you might just learn some really valuable information.