You’ve been there … when you feel as if you’re in a conversation all by yourself and you aren’t being listened to. Now reverse this scenario. Is there a chance that you sometimes leave your partner in communication feeling alone and unheard?
To begin with, are you really trying to listen? Or are you just chattering away? It’s been said that you have “two ears and one mouth” for a reason! Learning to listen more than you speak can up your presence and generate success in communicating. There’s benefit for all if you ensure that you’re listening.
So how can you raise the level of your listening presence in your communication practices?
Be present. Tune in specifically with who you’re listening to, shutting out any inner chatter or distractions that may be around you.
If you must speak, ask clarifying questions (e.g., Do you mean that …?) If you’re trying to understand more, show empathy or gain trust, be sure to invite further conversation with openminded questions that ask for more information.
Show your willingness and enthusiasm to listen through your nonverbal expressions. Maintain culturally appropriate eye contact, nod your head with interest and understanding, and use smiles and head tilts at appropriate times.
Display supportive nonverbal body postures. These include facing your body — and leaning in — toward the individual you’re listening to, using open postures.
Good listeners give focused attention to the person who is speaking — to their ideas, concerns or problems — and work to understand and provide support.
Kelly Duggan is an Image Consultant specializing in executive and personal image development, etiquette & communication skills. She is a certified member of the Association of Image Consultants International. Contact Kelly at: www.kellyduggan.com.