Become A good Listener..

*wakes up from bed on an Easter Monday  morning and remembers something disturbing*

Just the other day, that is before the Easter Saga to be precise, i happened to be in a meeting somewhere and i couldn’t help but notice some of the common poor listening habits, i don’t need to mention them because we already know the lot.

Am going to get to the point because am well aware that hesitation devices won’t work here, let me share with you how you can become a good and better listener…Let’s start;

Listening is not a passive process, so all the techniques for good listening should be active and that includes the ones that are not visible to the speaker. If we are to become good listeners we should first recognize and know the listening obstacles we face as individuals then and only then will we overcome them.

Some of the obstacles we should and must overcome include, external noises, distractions like poor grammar, vocabulary, physiological conditions like pain and fatigue, physical distractions like dressing code, lighting, emotional activity like worry etc.

Being aware of what is distracting us is the first step in overcoming the obstacle but when it is out of your hand then there is problem in letting the speaker know and suggest a solution if it is the speakers fault say like the dressing code. An act like this suggests that one wants to give full attention to what the speaker is saying

We should be able to listen with an open mind, this does not mean that we have to agree with everything that is being said but rather we have to first listen to all the sides of the issue at hand, this will open your mind to a variety of new ideas and concepts that you might not have known.

Faking attention is a very bad habit which should be avoided because if the speaker notices that you are insulting him/her you could be in trouble. You might be asked to respond in some way and you may be very embarrassed, so one should avoid getting embarrassed by paying attention.

Responding to the speaker should be a planned action, not just interrupting the speaker and blurting out questions in the middle of the speech. You can decide to respond later by sharing your opinion, insights and questions, it can be an email, a hand written letter.

We should learn not to judge a book by its cover, do not make haste to judge a speaker by his/her personality, appearance and how the message is being delivered. We should come to terms with the fact that there are different personalities, styles and levels of ability and all these elements should be considered and taken into consideration.

We should remember that listening does not actually mean that we agree with what is being said, it just shows a sign of respect as we expect to be listened to when it is our time to communicate. Listening demands an open mind and also provides a powerful way to bring about change because listening is thinking.

Listening to the whole message without refuting and judging is good practice for a good listener. We should suppress bias and prejudice as this will enable us to listen. We should do one thing at a time that is listening then responding. When you are listening you cannot simultaneously judge, postponing the desire to judge and respond before the speaker has finished will make us better listeners.

We should be able to show the speaker that we are actually listening, this could be done by leaning forward, nodding the head, maintaining eye contact, because let’s face it, no one would like an audience that is as motionless as a graveyard. These gestures will in turn help the speaker to adjust and make his message more interesting.

We should learn how to interpret the speaker’s body language because this is as important as listening to the words. A lot of information can also be derived from the body language, gestures, facial expressions therefore the non-verbal communication should also be considered to better our listening skills.

Listening requires one to be able to determine the general ideas that we being communicated from the message. One can make a summary and share with the speaker to confirm and doing this will build one’s confidence as a good listener and it also proves to the speaker that you were listening.

We learn to develop an attitude that the speaker’s message will be helpful because most of the times the information which seems meaningless is the one that usually helps us. Finding the speaker’s interests and personal interests requires self-discipline and maintaining a positive attitude is essential to being a better listener.

Taking time to listen to one’s self is very essential because this will enable you to cope with the obstacles such as prejudices and internal noise. Once your thoughts are in order, it will be much easier to attend to the thoughts of others.

In order to acquire lucidity of the message being delivered, one should ask questions because sometimes a good question is more important than knowing what the answer actually is. Asking questions is a positive way to show that you are listening.

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