Extracting the best from every conversation
There are two parts to a conversation – speaking and listening. Unfortunately, on the whole most of us want to speak, get it off our chest, rather than listen.
The thing is, if you are going to invest your time with someone, you want to come away with more knowledge than you started with.
You already know your story, but what about theirs?
Empathetic listening is feeling the energy behind the conversation. It makes them feel valued and you walk away a little wiser.
If you value others and want to listen more effectively when they speak, here are a few suggestions:
Maintain eye contact. This keeps your mind from wandering and communicates to others that they have your full attention.
Drop other activities while the other person is talking. Although it’s possible to watch TV or check your phone while listening to another, the message they receive when your attention is diverted is, “I’m not very important to you.”
Listen for feelings and reflect what you hear. By repeating back what you think you are hearing, you tell others you are listening. Plus, this gives them the opportunity to clarify their feelings or desires.
Observe body language. Clenched fists, trembling hands, or tears can help you gauge the strength of feeling behind the other person’s words. The stronger the feeling, the more important your undivided attention becomes.