How many people do you know that listen with the intention to reply, not to understand what you are saying? These are the people who often interrupt when you are speaking – not allowing you to finish your point – and change the conversation to something about themselves. How do you feel when they do that?
Listening is an incredibly important skill that unfortunately, many of us don’t really possess to the standard required. The standard required is by making people feel important, appreciated and most significantly understood, through our active listening skills.
Start taking an interest in others
If you are somebody who wants to cultivate great relationships in your life you must start taking an interest in others. There are no two ways about it. Nobody wants to be around a person who is completely self-absorbed and only interested in things that benefit themselves. By taking an active interest in others, you will make people feel more important, more appreciated and more loved. In turn these people will look at you as somebody who understands their importance, who appreciates and who loves them. The end result is that these people will be more likely to serve your needs! Just as you have done for them, all because of your ability to listen effectively.
If we truly want to cultivate great relationships and be loved as people ourselves, we must listen with the intention to understand, not reply. One way of doing this is to ask probing questions after the person you are actively listening to has finished talking. Allow them to tell you more about the topic in question – especially if it’s something they are passionate about – they will feel more important and appreciative of you. Ultimately, the more we serve others by allowing them to be heard, the more likely they will be to serve our needs.
Suppress your desire to be heard
Now, by actively listening to others, our ego will feel diminished and will desire for us to say something about ourselves or the topic in question. This is the hard part. Because it is so important for us to suppress the desire to be heard, especially if we actually want to cultivate great relationships.
Give people their time to shine. Listen to them.
The hardest part of listening is stopping ourselves speaking. If we can control that, we can become much better listeners. Human nature tells us that everyone wants to be heard. It’s just a fact of life. We can use this to our advantage by controlling our desire to be heard and feeding the desire of others (to be heard).
Pausing: one of the most important sub-skills within the skill of listening. If you want somebody to open up to you, not only is it important to speak less, it’s more important to pause. For example you may ask a question and get a response which is not satisfactory for you or revealing enough. If so just pause. Don’t say a word. People find silence uncomfortable, it’s likely the person will reveal more to you. You can try this with a friend and let me know your feedback in the comments.
Be a mirror
Last but not least, I’d like to talk about the mirroring technique. This technique will really convince your counterpart that you have been listening to them. In turn making them feel understood and very important. Simply put, you say everything they have just said but in your own words. This shows that you have understood the point from your perspective and therefore doesn’t seem unnatural to your counterpart. This technique works wonders and is great for helping you to form better relationships with others, through your ability of being a great listener.
Thank you so much for reading. The skill of listening is really important to me so I hope you find this blog to be useful. Thank you for your support.
“Listen with the intention to understand” is a key point, nice. This also helps if you’re feeling a bit awkward in a conversation, as can sometimes happen, and you’re not really sure what to say in reply. If you ask a clarification question, or relaying what that person said to you in your own words, it 1. takes the onus away from you, which is first of all a relief to your anxiety, and therefore also makes the other person feel heard, and 2. gives them an opportunity to elaborate. Listening well is to your benefit!
That’s an excellent point mate. I hope others can benefit from this comment just as I have – great wisdom. Anxiety is a hugely common thing and listening well can help to relieve that – that hadn’t even crossed my mind before. Thanks for that!