Why You Should Improve Your Listening Skills
How good are your listening skills? While we all know what the term means, how many of us are actually listening rather than just hearing what is being said? We spend around 80% of our day engaged in some form of communication, but research has shown that we only absorb and remember somewhere between 17-25% of the things that we hear.
Communication is a vital part of life, so how can we improve our listening skills so that we are absorbing more information? We thought we would take a closer look…
Why are listening skills so important?
As we grow up and begin to develop our literacy skills, there is a major focus on our reading and writing. However, listening is something that we take for granted, and we are typically not taught the importance of this essential part of communication.
Listening skills are crucial to our day-to-day activities. Whether chatting with loved ones, engaging with new people, or communicating with colleagues, being able to effectively listen and understand each other is vital. Some of the benefits of enhancing how efficiently we hear include:
- Reducing Misunderstandings
Poor communication skills can often lead to misunderstandings and misinterpretations, leading to issues in our personal and professional lives.
- Build empathy
Empathy is another vital life skill, and improved listening skills can help us better understand the feelings of the people we are engaging with.
- Enhance business relationships
Listening is one of the most important aspects of any business interaction. That is why developing this skill can help you build stronger connections with colleagues and clients alike.
- Boost productivity
Of course, improving our listening not only enhances our communication. When you are able to absorb more information, you have a better understanding of what is required, boosting your productivity in the process.
How to improve your listening skills
When it comes to listening, there are two forms. Passive listening is where we hear things in the background but do not give them our full attention, and active listening is where we pay full attention to what is being said.
However, becoming an active listener requires effort and practice. That is why if you are looking to boost your listening skills, some top tips include:
Consider eye contact
Maintaining eye contact with other people can seem uncomfortable, but it is essential to active listening. When someone is talking to you, rather than avert your gaze by checking your phone or looking around the room, maintain eye contact and give them your full attention.
While eye contact is a core aspect of communication in western cultures, this can be considered rude in Japanese and Korean cultures. That is why it is always essential to understand the people you are engaging with. However, regardless of the specifics of each culture, you should always turn your head to the speaker. Also, place anything that could distract you, such as books or your phone, out of sight.
Alongside looking toward the speaker, you should also be alert and focus on what they are saying. Using your facial expressions and body language to showcase and respond to what the speaker is saying will train your brain to absorb more of the discussion.
Try to shut out any exterior noises, such as background noise from outside or other people. It would help if you also tried to ignore the speaker’s mannerisms or accent and focus solely on the speaker’s words.
Try summarising the important things back to the speaker. Research has shown that repeating things back helps us retain more information and have better conversations.
Watch their body language
Improving our listening skills is not just about focusing on the speaker’s words. Nonverbal communication, such as how people move or act, can also provide us with more information. Whether it be how they have their arms, their eye movement or even the tone of their voice, this can help us understand their feelings and emotions.
Refrain from interruption
Whether a professional meeting or a personal conversation, it can be very tempting to jump in and try to get your point across. However, when we do this, we are closing ourselves off from the speaker and instead focusing on what we will say.
Another top tip to improve your listening skills is to be patient. Allow the person speaking to finish their sentence and consider what they have said before trying to counteract or respond.
The importance of clean language
When it comes to improving our listening skills and enhancing our communications, clean language is a handy methodology. First introduced by language and therapeutic psychologist David J Grove in the 1980s, clean language is a set of simple questions that direct attention to certain aspects of our experiences.
David developed the methodology after studying transcripts of many leading therapists. During his research, he found that they continuously shifted the frames of reference for their clients by introducing their own perceptions of the world. Clean language provides a set of proven questions with minimum assumptions to remove these unconscious biases.
While this was originally designed to support therapists, clean language is also a fantastic technique for all professional communicators. Its focus is very closely aligned to modern principles of empathy, and it can help to:
- Promote great clarity in all of our communications
- Encourage neutrality in what we say and the objectives that we set
- Ensure what we say is easier to understand for everyone we engage with
- Foster relationships by allowing great productivity and cooperation from all parties.
Two clean language questions
Try out these two clarifying questions when you are next listening to someone
- And is there anything else about ____?
- And what kind of ____ is that?
Are you looking to improve your listening skills?
Is your mind running at a million miles an hour with thoughts racing through your head? Here at Life Change Foundation, we know how overwhelming it can seem; however, improving your listening skills can help you collect your thoughts and refocus.
Having a safe space where someone can listen to you without any agenda can be a rare occurrence. That is why we have developed a unique new app designed to provide real, human conversation in this fast-paced digital world.
The SayNow app allows you to connect anonymously with others, listening to their issues and helping to be there for them. Taking a few minutes to listen to others will also see you begin to forget your own stresses and worries while also allowing you to see your own issues from a new perspective.
Getting started is incredibly each, simply download the SayNow app today and sign up to start learning new listening skills. You will then be able to connect with others to practice these new skills, and as you grow on our platform, you will begin to understand and progress your ability to communicate and understand others.
Ready to find your true voice and connect with others? Download the App Today!