Have you ever had someone say to you, “I just feel like you’re not listening to me when I talk”? Quality conversation requires active listening. If we are not actively listening to others, our responses will make it clear to them that we didn’t fully engage what they were saying. This can be frustrating and often discourages them from opening up in the future.
If you value others and want to listen more effectively when they speak, here are a few suggestions:
- Maintain eye contact. This keeps your mind from wandering and communicates to others that they have your full attention.
- Drop other activities while the other person is talking.Although it’s possible to watch TV or check your phone while listening to another, the message they receive when your attention is diverted is, “I’m not very important to you.”
- Listen for feelings and reflect what you hear. By repeating back what you think you are hearing, you tell others you are listening. Plus, this gives them the opportunity to clarify their feelings or desires.
- Observe body language.Clenched fists, trembling hands, or tears can help you gauge the strength of feeling behind the other person’s words. The stronger the feeling, the more important your undivided attention becomes.
When you find yourself in conversations today, notice how you listen to others. If you find you are not listing as actively as you could, try some of these steps, and watch to see if your conversations become more life-giving to others
“From the author of the 5 languages of love”