Good talkers can be found in every boardroom, classroom, and everywhere in between. Good listeners, on the other hand, are hard to come by. Listening has turned into an art form. With so many distractions and advertisements pulling you in so many directions, people have learned to just tune out. This has compromised our ability to have conversations resulting in us treating people the same way that we treat online banner ads.
This is not a new phenomenon. I’m not saying that prior generations were better listeners and were always actively engaged in conversation with one another. However, without the technology we’ve grown up with today, a thoughtful conversation was a form of entertainment.
This reminds me of a quote from the movie Fight Club (1999) between Edward Norton and Marla Signer.
Edward Norton: When people think you're dying, they really, really listen to you, instead of just...
Marla Singer: Instead of just waiting for their turn to speak?
Has this ever happened to you? You're having a conversation with someone and something comes to mind that you must get out right away. Everything that’s said after your thought has been lost or tuned out, unintentionally.
It's difficult to be a better listener. It actually takes effort. Unlike passive conversation, listening intently and asking thought-provoking questions and answers is an active form of communication. If you’ve gotten this far, you're up for the challenge. Most people focus on developing their speaking skills for presentations, public speaking, and pitching ideas.
But now you’ll be one of the few who will focus on the listening skills that commonly get overlooked.
Here are your top 10 habits to become a better listener:
1. Pay Attention
People’s number one problem with listening is that, well, they actually don’t. They are easily distracted by outside forces, like playing with their phone, thinking of something else, and are usually everywhere but present in the conversation. Pay attention to the person in front of you by facing them while they speak and avoid outside distractions. Nod your head during the conversation and keep general eye contact to show your interest.
2. Stay Focused
Next time you’re in a conversation, dedicate yourself solely to that person. Listen to what they have to say by offering your time. Give them your undivided attention so they feel you’re devoted to them. Through actively listening, a better listener will make them feel what they have to say is important. By staying focused, the conversation will come easy. Coming up with good q