How to Become a Better Listener at Work and at Home

It might often happen to you not to always pay attention to what a person has to say. This is understandable, given the small amount of time we have to fulfill certain tasks and the huge number of distractions surrounding us. However, if you want to be a better leader or just to be appreciated more, you should learn how to become a better listener.

People shaking hands in the outdoors

Why you should learn how to become a better listener

We shouldn’t blame people that they can’t always listen to what others have to say. We are surrounded by so many things to do over such a short period of time that sometimes it’s impossible to pay attention to everything.

However, listening is crucial in some contexts. Within a company, it’s important to know what others have to say. You might know your own interests and bring them forth, but it won’t help you in interacting with others. Achieving a goal depends on reaching an agreement with the people you are collaborating with. Also, they might have some valuable opinions, so you should know how to listen to what they say.

Such a skill is vital not only at work. Even when you leave behind your tasks and head back home, you should know how to listen to your loved ones. If you can communicate with them, you have more chances to improve your relationship, and then go back to work happy and content.

Here are a few tips on how to become a better listener not only in the working environment, but also in the familial one.

1.      Decode what the other person has to say

The primary purpose of communication is to send a message. Therefore, make sure you understand this message. Be active in the conversation, and send clear signs that you are actually listening. Not all people are good at transmitting their message. If something feels unclear, ask for a clarification. Whenever there’s something you don’t understand, you shouldn’t refrain from asking the other person what they meant.

Instead of being annoyed if you ask them to repeat themselves, these people will appreciate your request. This way, they will know you are interested in the topic, and can make sure you will get their meaning.

2.      Try to learn as much as possible

Instead of listening to a person just because you have to, try to learn something from their discourse. Listening just to be polite is not constructive, and you often leave without knowing much about the topic. Before entering a meeting or even a simple conversation, ask yourself some questions first.

Draw a small list of what you can learn from it, and some things you might be interested about. The secret is to remain open-minded and pay attention. You can always learn new things from anything, so it wouldn’t hurt to start any work conversation like you are a beginner in the matter.

3.      Keep your mind quiet

Stay focused during any kind of conversation, and try to forget about own problems. If it’s not your own agenda you are discussing, then you should forget about it. Let the other people say what they have to say without intervening, so you can actually see their point.

4.      Maintain eye contact

One easy way to stay focused is to maintain eye contact. This way, you both show your interlocutor you are listening to what they have to say, and you can also grasp some meaning from their words. Looking in other directions makes it easier to space out, so keep your gaze on the person who’s talking.

People at a table looking at smartphones and laptops

5.      Avoid distractions

Before starting the conversation, make sure you put your phone away and close the internet. If you concentrate on these things, you will end up hearing almost nothing. Also, if you keep scrolling while the other person is talking, they will not feel respected.

6.      Wait until they finish talking

If you have questions, it’s important to ask them. However, don’t interrupt the person. Wait until they finish their discourse, and make sure they have said everything they wanted to communicate. Only after can you ask whatever questions you have. This way, you avoid making the situation unpleasant, or asking something that was about to be addressed.

7.      Make a summary of the conversation

In the end, you should make sure you have understood everything. The easiest way to do it is to repeat everything that you have discussed. Make a short summary of all the topics and answers you have received, and expose it to the interlocutor. This way, if there’s something you haven’t understood properly, the other person can clarify it for you.

8.      Choose a reply responsibly

Based on what you have picked up, you can start shaping your reply. It’s important to listen because, this way, you’ll know what it suitable to offer as an answer. However, this is not the only purpose of offering feedback.

By doing it, you’ll show the person that you actually care about what they said. If you have listened attentively, you can give a satisfactory answer. This should improve your relations with other people, but also help you settle important debates.

9.      Be honest

If there’s something you cannot do in this situation, just be open and honest about it. If they ask you to do something and there’s something that prevents you from doing it, just tell them. Your interlocutor will definitely understand you.

This also applies to when you feel like you need a break. If you feel like you can’t focus anymore, it’s better to go get a breath of fresh air and recharge your batteries. This way, you will grasp all the meaning that you have to pick up from the conversation.

Three people listening during a meeting

Summing up

Learning how to be a better listener is essential if you want to grow both on a professional and a personal level. It will make people appreciate you more, but also help you learn plenty of new things. Instead of letting your mind wander during meetings, learning to stay focused can teach you how to communicate and interact with other people.

Image sources: 1, 2, 3, 4.

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