It is possible to become a better listener. At lunch recently with a friend; her son told her that he always knows when she is listening to him. She looked at him and asked ‘really? How so?’ His reply, ‘Mommy, you always stop what you are doing and look at me.’ Profound isn’t it; that a five year old understands better than most adults. The lessons we can learn when we simply stop, listen, and receive. Remember that ‘listen’ also spells ‘silent’.
Simple steps that will help you become a better listener are:
1- Remove distractions. Good listeners know that if distractions distract. A phone on vibrate may ring which still is a distraction. Anything that takes the focus away from the interaction with another person is a distraction. Computers, tablets, televisions; all distractions. To become a better listener know what your distractions are and remove them. There really is only the one opportunity to listen to what someone is saying at that exact moment in time. Water never flows through the same river twice.
2- Pay attention to nonverbal communication. Indicators of good listeners are eye contact, learning forward; and nodding. Good listeners focus on the person speaking and are engaged nonverbally. They demonstrate an interest and give respect and honor not only to the person they are interacting with; but to the conversation as well.
3- Mentally prepare. While you may not what someone is going to share with you; being mentally prepared is beneficial. Before it’s time to listen remove not only the physical distractions; but also the noise or emotional distractions too. The removal of these things are simple and will provide much fruit for your relationship.
4- Paraphrase and ask questions. Paraphrasing what someone is saying is a tactic that reveals what the intended message was received or that it wasn’t. Good listeners paraphrase and ask questions as a demonstration of understanding, being on on accord; and displaying honor toward the other person.
5. Do not interrupt. James 1:9 tells us, ‘Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.’ Interrupting others when they are speaking is not only rude; but it reveals much more about you than the person speaking.
Becoming a better listener takes effort. It requires focus outward toward other people and it is a genuine reflection of your interest and care for that person. It signifies much about who you are as a person and demonstrates a a level of respect that all are worthy of.