Your listening skills: 9 tips to improve them

Listening is an important skill in effective communication that helps you to get information and understand others better.

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Your listening skills: 9 tips to improve them

Communication is a key ingredient in promoting strong, healthy relationships. Listening is an important skill in effective communication that helps you to get information and understand others better. It also empowers you to learn and promotes creative conflict resolution. These nine tips will help you improve your listening skills and become an exceptional listener.

1.Pay attention to the speaker

To listen effectively, you need to pay attention to the person that you are speaking with. You need to maintain some level of eye contact but you also will need to consider cultural differences and avoid staring. What is important is that you focus on the speaker and show that you are interested in what is being said.

2.Improve nonverbal communication

Show through your body language that you are listening. For example, you might lean forward, nod your head, or smile to send nonverbal messages to show your interest . This makes the person you are speaking with more comfortable, and encourages him or her to continue speaking.

3.Give your feedback

You will also need to give the person verbal feedback to let him or her know that you are not only listening, but also understanding what is being said. For example, you might ask questions to clarify information you don’t understand. Or admit that you missed something and ask for more detail.

4.Practice paraphrasing

As you listen carefully, you will need to paraphrase what is said to let the person know that the message is understood. This will encourage the speaker to expand on what he or she is trying to communicate.

5.Try not to interrupt

Make an effort not to interrupt when the person is speaking, as he or she might find this frustrating . Allow people to finish what they are saying before you ask questions or for clarification. Remember, that it is difficult for you to talk and listen at the same time.

6.Respond with respect

Demonstrate empathetic listening , that is, try to understand the person’s perspective as you listen. When you do, you are more likely to treat the person as you would like to be treated. You show respect even if you don’t agree with what is being said.

7.Don’t be judgmental

Try not to jump to conclusions before hearing all that the person has to say, and avoid assumptions about what is said. That is why it is always necessary to seek clarifications throughout the conversation. As you practice nonjudgmental listening skills, you will find that your relationships with your spouse, boss and colleagues improve.

8.Stay focused on the subject

Always try to stay focused on what you are hearing. Though this might be difficult, try to shut out external distractions. Tuning in to what the person is saying also means tuning out your own worries.

9.Listen to nonverbal communication

Remember that communication is more than words . Be sure to take into consideration the person’s tone and inflections in the voice. For example, sounds of sadness in a person’s voice might mean that the he or she is experiencing emotional pain . Also, if a person is raising his or her voice, this might indicate that frustration levels are rising.