Click below to listen to the audio version of this article or continue reading.
People are busy. As such, there’s a lot going on in their minds. This goes on day after day. So, when it comes time to listen, they are often too preoccupied. When this happens, they are less likely to absorb information.
Consider students who are bored with a lecture. They are thinking about everything but the subject of the lecture. However, if they worked on their listening skills, it could help them focus more on the lecture. They would not take as many notes as they would be absorbing more of what the teacher is saying.
To become better listeners, we have first to accept that you may not be as good at listening as you believe. Most people aren’t, but consider themselves good listeners. Try this experiment the next time you meet someone. After they introduce themselves, and you have been speaking to them for a minute or so, try to recall the person’s name. If you can’t, then you were not listening. When they are talking, take notice of whether you are thinking about what you are going to say next after they finish. If you were, then once again, you were not listening to what they said.
One great way to help you listen is to repeat back what the other person is saying. This confirms what they are saying and helps you hear it inside your mind. Usually, the person you are conversing with will not think it is strange, contrary to popular belief.
Another way to reinforce your listening is to ask questions during your conversation. This engages both parties in the conversation and gets you thinking about what was said.
One reason why we may be bad listeners is that we were never really taught the skill. It is a learnable skill and therefore requires some training. There is nothing currently in the curriculum of schools that cover this type of training at any level.
Good listeners also tune into what is not said, i.e., facial expressions and body language. These signals sometimes tell more of the story than the actual words. It can give clues to the hidden meanings and what the other person is actually feeling.
You will remember more when you become a better listener. You will capture the messages and the subtle cues that others would allow to pass. Whether it is for school or work, people are going to ask, how do you remember everything?