Much of our day-to-day life is based on communication. We could not have the quality of life standards we have if it were not for the fact that we live in society. However, sometimes we forget that we also have something to contribute to this formula. For communication to flow, it is important to learn to really listen.
After all, we all know how to stand still while the other one talks, but to really participate in a conversation requires the ability to stay active even when the other one has the floor.
In this article we will focus on reviewing different tips about how to learn to listen in the conversations we have with friends, family and loved ones in general.
Tips for learning to listen
Being good at listening to others is a virtue that is underestimated in many ways. But if mastered, it makes us much more skilful at making connections with others. And let us remember that the quality and quantity of these bonds are something that defines our quality of life. Few people like to deal regularly with someone who doesn’t listen to them while they talk.
So consider the following tips when applying them to conversations you take part in, even if in practice they look more like a monologue than a dialogue (there are times when a person needs to vent and be heard). Keep in mind that reading off ideas is not enough; you must apply them to your daily life in a constant way in order to get used to them, and adapt them to the characteristics of your life.
1. Estimate the needs of the other person
To start with, it’s good to keep your attention on what the other person’s non-verbal language and what they say between the lines tells us about the needs that move them to talk . Do you want to be heard to explain a fact that has had a strong emotional impact on them? Or do you simply want to explain something so that we can use that information to do something?
Depending on these needs, our participation in the conversation should be more based on listening, or on listening and speaking.
2. Maintain eye contact
Maintaining eye contact is one of the key aspects of any face-to-face conversation. If this rule is not even met, not only does it create a sense of distance from the person with whom we are communicating, but even misunderstandings can arise and failures to interpret the thoughts and intentions of the other.
Therefore, even if you don’t speak, look the other person in the eye. If for some reason this is difficult for you, either because you are shy or because you are not used to it, just look at their face . If you do this, without becoming obsessed with making eye contact, it will surely come naturally to you and after a while using this technique you won’t have to think about it anymore.
3. Don’t take a break
Listening is not less than speaking; it is as important, if not more so. So, don’t take these times as moments of rest where you can do whatever you want. Because if you do, you’ll just say what you want to say and then switch off, stop paying attention and go into your fantasies, humming songs or remembering experiences. On a few occasions when the other person realises that you are not paying any attention at all, they may stop trying to talk to you .
4. Practice active listening
You don’t just have to pay attention to what the other person tells you. You also have to let them know you’re paying attention. This way, the other person will have an incentive to talk as much as they want, without feeling alibied, and genuine communication will flow .
To achieve this, make sure you give rhythm to the conversation by nodding and clearly showing your reactions to what the other person is saying (with gestures or exclamations). You can also make brief comments about what the other person is saying, but not so long as to interrupt it. The idea is to complement the other person’s efforts to explain themselves with your own efforts to communicate what you think about what they are saying .
5. Ask your questions
A conversation is always something dynamic, largely improvised. That’s why you can also help make it meaningful, even in the role of a listener, by asking simple questions or asking for clarification.
In this way we will compensate for the omissions of information in which our interlocutor may fall simply for not having planned what he or she was going to say, while at the same time showing interest or even facilitating the appearance of moments in which doubts appear that nobody had thought of before and which help to see the subject from another perspective.