Enjoy listening! Some of the best times can be when you sit back, relax and let someone else do the talking. Learn about their story, what they know about and what’s important to them. You’ll be surprised and inspired by others. It will make you a wiser, more rounded person. And it will also make others like and respect you back for your listening skills.
Summertime is definitely social time. Neighbours you’ve hardly seen all winter are busy in their gardens or out walking. The weather makes travel easier for families and friends. There’s even more daylight for stretching out dinner while everyone talks and enjoys themselves. Plus most of us have a little more leisure time in the summer. The kids at camp, you’ve got some vacation days, and there’s 3 long weekends to enjoy.
Make the most of your summer, become a good listener. It’s not as easy as you think. Otherwise, you’d see more evidence of good listening vs. lots of talking. Listening is not the same as hearing. Listening means you actually concentrate on what the other person is saying. Listening experts tell us that listening well is a difficult skill for most to master, but with practice, you can make real progress.
Here are some tips on brushing up your listening skills this summer:
EYE CONTACT: Look at the person who is talking in the eyes so you can focus on their story, especially if there are distractions around you. If the environment is too noisy, suggest you move to a quieter place or pick up the conversation later.
SIT BACK & LISTEN: Force yourself to concentrate on what they are saying rather than plan your reply while they are speaking, or pick out points you want to correct. (This is difficult but essential)
POSITIVE RESPONSE: Say encouraging words so they keep talking, e.g. “tell me more,” or “that is very interesting to hear”. Resist turning the conversation back to you, such as, “well, that’s nothing compared to my story. Let me tell you what happened to me!” Also don’t shut them down by saying something like, “I already heard that before.”
NO ONE NEEDS TO WIN: No one “wins” a convers-ation, so don’t make it a tug of war. That is, no one gets a prize for the biggest laugh, the longest story or the loudest voice. The best conversations are those when both sides feel that they have been heard.
POLITELY SWITCH TOPICS: If the conversation gets controversial feel free to just say nothing. If forced to acknowledge their point, a helpful response is always, “You may be right” and then suggest a different topic.
RESPECT OTHERS: Finally (and need we say it!), take your cell phone off the table; ideally, turn it off and put it out of sight. The person who is there with you is the one who should be getting your attention. There may be occasions where you need to stay in touch with someone. If that is the case, explain ahead and put the phone somewhere where you can hear it but aren’t jumping to look each time a text or email arrives.
Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you’d have preferred to talk.” – Doug Larson
Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” – Stephen R. Covey
We have two ears and one tongue so that we would listen more and talk less. – Diogenes (Greek Philosopher, 400 BC)