Listening skills are an important part of effective communication. Hearing is the physical ability, while listening is a skill. Listening skills allow one to make sense of and understand what another person is saying
Most times when we are communicating with someone we are actively forming, in our own minds, what we are going to say next, after the other person stops talking. This takes our attention off the other person and we tend to miss what they are saying. Listening involves more than just hearing, it also involves responding to what someone is saying. This process is called active listening.
Active listening can help you talk with others more clearly and with understanding. It isn’t always easy, but when you can learn to practice it often, it can help you build a better relationship with a partner, a child, a friend or a co-worker.
Strategies for active listening include the following:
- -Focus your full attention on the other person talking.
- -Ask good questions. Don’t accuse or blame in your questioning.
- -Keep yourself from judging what the other person is saying.
- -Sometimes it helps to repeat back to the other person what they just said, but in your own words.
- -Put yourself in their shoes. Accept their feelings, thoughts and ideas about the situation, whether or not you agree or share the same perspective.
Active listening takes time and practice. However, every time you use active listening, it gets a little easier. It can help you to navigate through difficult conversations. More than that, it helps improve overall communication, builds a better understanding and ultimately leads to better relationships with family, friends and co-workers.