One of the essentials of being a good leader is to imbibe the listening skills. Most times, we tend to pay a great deal of attention to our ability to speak. In fact, we take courses on speaking while we neglect the listening aspect.

No doubt, speaking is very important. However, listening is much more important when it comes to our day to day communication. Everyone desires to be heard and understood, and we reward people who provide us these opportunities with our trust and loyalty.

Genuine listening is a rare gift; a gift of time. It helps to build relationships, solve problems, ensure understanding, resolve conflicts and improve accuracy. Also, effective listening means fewer errors, less wasted energy, resourcefulness and self-reliance. Therefore, here are some ways to help improve your listening skills:

Maintain Eye Contact

Most times, it is considered a basic ingredient of effective communication. So, you should put aside your phone, papers, books and other distraction. Look at them even when they don’t.

Be Attentive, But Relaxed

You do not have to stare fixedly at the other person. Being attentive shows that you are present and you remain steady to serve the person. Also, do not focus on the speaker’s mannerism or accent, just listen to understand them.

In addition, do not be distracted by your own thoughts, feelings or biases.

You Need to Keep an Open Mind

Do not judge the speaker based on their first or second sentence. Listen without mentally criticising their speech. Avoid being a sentence grabber. Listen till the end before you voice your opinion.

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Do Not Interrupt

When you were young, you were taught that, it is rude to interrupt. Same applies here when listening to your friend, boss, colleagues or anyone who has come to you for solutions on an issue. When you try to interrupt the speaker, you are informing the speaker that you really do not care about their feelings.

Ask Questions Only to Ensure Understanding

This happens almost all the time. Your questions lead people in directions that have nothing to do with where they thought they were going. Sometimes we work our way back to the original topic, but very often we don’t.

Empathy

Empathy is the heart and soul of good listening. When your speaker expresses sadness, joy and fear, try to show those feelings through your facial expressions and words. To experience this, you need to put yourself in the other person’s place and allow yourself to feel what it is like to be her at that moment.

Give the Speaker Regular Feedback

This shows that you understand where the speaker is coming from by reflecting the speaker’s feelings. So, show your understanding through appropriate facial expressions and an occasional well-timed “hum” and “uhn uhn.”

Listening is very important. Therefore, always make it paramount when having conversations with people.

Read Also: Strategies to Understand Yourself Better

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