We all know that listening is a component of communicating, but we can easily underestimate the importance of this skill. We tend to underestimate its importance when we assume this is a skill that we have already mastered. The reality is that most of us are listening to respond, instead of listening to seek understanding. One of the biggest ways conflict arises, is when we attempt to problem solve before both people have listened to the other’s perspective, and feel heard.
Are you a good listener?
Listening with your body language:
Keep Quiet – A listener cannot listen if they are speaking. Do not interrupt with comments until the other person has finished
Eye Contact – Look at the person talking
Body Posture – Lean in and turn toward the other person to show interest
Head Nods – A easy nonverbal that shows we are with the other person
Listening with your words:
Judgment is withheld – Listener isn’t thinking whether you agree or disagree, and is not coming up with their counter argument while listening. The listener is seeking to understand the speaker’s perspective, and withholding judgment while doing so.
Summarize – After the speaker is finished, the listener will summarize in their own words that the speaker said, including their perspective, thoughts and feelings.
Check in – Listener checks in with the speaker to see if their summary was accurate. Speaker can clarify, or try again if they do not feel heard.
Try again – Continue to summarize and check in until the speaker feels that the listener has an understanding of their perspective, and feels heard.
Practice! Practice in your marriage, friendships, and with your kids.