A World Without Racism Listens
How to Get Better at Listening
Learning what listening means and why it is important are two very important initial steps in order for us to be able to become better listeners. The very first step other than that is to actually start listening to understand. We must get past the passive stage of listening and start to actively listen. Make it your priority to gather the information that is being spoken to you and make it into a cohesive piece of information. Next, you can make sure that you are understanding by asking questions. This is similar to what we have discussed before, and it is true that active speaking involves feedback. This lets the speaker know that not only are you really listening, but you are understanding what they are getting at.
Body language is also something that is important for improving your listening skills. When you are listening to someone talk to you make sure to maintain an open posture, by not crossing your arms, pursing your lips, and so forth, to show them that you are taking in the information and that you’re comfortable. Similarly, you can show you are listening by nodding, the key here though is to not overdo it. Make sure you monitor your body language and nod and smile when it is appropriate. By doing so you can show your engagement to the speaker without interrupting them. Yet another trick to enable you to portray to the speaker that you are listening is by mirroring their body language. This needs to be done in a non-distracting way, but by mirroring their leg and hand positions you can make it work on a subconscious level to let them know that you empathize with them.
Harry Cohen, the author of Be The Sun Not The Salt, has a section in the book titled Be An Olympic Listener which discusses the fact that everything speaks if we are paying attention. It reinforces the idea that when we listen to what is said, what is omitted, and to what is meant we are able to become more sensitive to what is really implied and needed from us. He also listed some simple tips that will help you become a better listener such as:
- Maintain eye contact. For humans, eye contact is a major sign that someone is engaged. As such when you are listening, focus on that person and do not look around at your surroundings.
- Be present. In the era of electronics we put a lot of our focus on these gadgets, but when someone is talking to you, put away all electronics and truly listen to the person.
- Don’t interrupt. It is easy to try to show that you are listening by putting in feedback and engaging in conversation, but be mindful and respectful. Let the speaker talk and finish their thoughts. And when you do speak make it short and sweet and not all about you. On a similar note, make sure you are listening to everything and not catching certain phrases, and starting to think of the replies you will say to the person.