There are two parts of any conversation, talking and listening.
Listening takes time and effort, and it’s a skill that requires practice.
Sometimes listening can be more challenging than speaking, especially if someone is confiding in you with personal struggles.
The good news? You can actually improve your ability to listen:
- Stop whatever you are doing and offer your full attention.
- Remind yourself to listen and be prepared to receive whatever is being communicated to you—the good, the bad, the indifferent.
- Remind yourself to stay present. If your mind wanders away from what the person is communicating – thoughts about the past or the future (chances are they will) - gently bring yourself back to the conversation. Ask for clarification if you lose track of what they are saying. Instead of making assumptions, jumping to conclusion or going into ‘fix-it’ mode, bring curiosity to the interaction and focus most of your efforts on listening.
- Reflect back to them what you have heard. This tells them that you are really listening.
We have two ears and one mouth which is a good reminder on how best to support someone who has opened up to you. But good listening doesn't just have to be practiced in trying situations, use it all day every day in every interaction you have. You may start to notice that YOU also begin to benefit from your new listening skills and it could even be changing the way you look at things for the better.
If you would like some more information on the benefits of social connection and how to start those conversations, Click Here to help keep these conversations going!