How to become a better person through Listening



Welcome to ‘Learning Tuesdays’, where we learn a particular skill or habit that will help you become a better you.

Today, we are going to learn how to become a better listener.

 

“We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.”– Epictetus

 

Listening has become a lost art which has been buried in the rubbles of the past. Not only has our attention span decreased, but it has also been altered to focus on our responses rather than connecting with others. Technology, social media and smartphones have weakened human connection which has limited face to face interactions and increased technological communications.

So what makes the art of listening so important in today’s society? We first have to explore the benefits associated with listening.

 

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What are the benefits of becoming a better listener?  

1. Become better at building stronger relationships.

 

“When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.”― Ernest Hemingway

We are often told to pay attention to our parents or school teachers during our childhood and adolescence years, but how many of us have received training in listening? Strong relationships are built on trust which is developed by understanding the other person through great listening skills.

 

Great Listening skills→ Understanding → Trust → Stronger Relationship

 

2. Become better in working in a team.

 

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much” ― Helen Keller

To listen and be a team player is vital in the world today. Group interactions such as work or family require great listening skills which will allow the individual to assist others in achieving their goals.


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3. Become better at solving problems 


“Two heads are better than one, not because either is infallible, but because they are unlikely to go wrong in the same direction.” ― C.S. Lewis


If you are able to listen better, you are able to find the deeper meaning behind the person’s words and help resolve their own problems or aim for a win-win situation.

 

What is needed to become a better listener?

1.  Seek first to Understand, then to be Understood.


“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” ― Stephen R. Covey

 

Key points

-Understand the emotion and the situation of the person talking.

-Avoid judgement


Mindset: Have the mindset of Journeying together with the individual while listening.

 

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2. Be 100% present

Key points

-Body language: Lean forward in their direction and head nod occasionally to show interest.

-Facial expressions: Match their facial expressions to develop empathy and maintain eye contact 60%-70% to show that you are listening.

-Remove any distractions such as smartphones and social media to become 100% present.

 

The world is full of distractions especially with the abundance of information and technology which makes it difficult for people to practice being 100% in conversations. In 2015 according to Wzyowl.com our attention span has decreased from 15 seconds to 8.25 seconds, which is less than a goldfish at 9 seconds.

Mindset: Focus on the person as if they were the only person that matter.

 

3. Limit interruptions and finishing sentences

People speak to process their thoughts and feelings and often individuals have the urge to interrupt or finish the speaker’s sentence. The listener may view the interruption or completion of a sentence as helpful, but the action disrupts the train of thought of the speaker. The measure of a great listener is someone who listens more than they speak.  

 

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4. Paraphrase and Summarise the conversation

 

To paraphrase and summarise in a conversation requires an individual to use their own words to identify the emotions and situation of the person. Patti Wood a Body Language expert from pattiwood.net provides great examples of paraphrasing which includes using lead statements such as: 

1. So it sounds like…..
2. If I understand you right….

And connect the appropriate statement with:

A. you’re saying that…..
B. you believe that….
C. You feel that…..

Examples

(1) So it sounds like (C) you feel that listening helps you to understand people more?
(2) If I understand you right, (B) you believe that great listeners have stronger relationships with other people.

To conclude a conversation, it is important to summarise the conversation to show that the person has been understood and valued. One example that can be helpful:

So from our conversation………

And connect the appropriate statement with

A. you’re saying that…..
B. you believe that….
C. You feel that…..


Blog post sourced from 

https://www.barrywinbolt.com/becoming-a-great-listener/

https://www.franklincovey.com/the-7-habits/habit-5.html

https://www.nytimes.com/guides/smarterliving/be-a-better-listener

http://www.pattiwood.net/article.asp?PageID=2323

https://www.psychologytoday.com/au/blog/how-do-life/201405/how-become-better-listener

https://managementhelp.org/blogs/personal-and-professional-coaching/2012/01/26/useful-communications-skills-how-to-paraphrase-and-summarize/

https://www.wyzowl.com/human-attention-span/

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