Effective listening skills are vital for communication. You should be able to concentrate on what a person is telling about and what he or she is asking from you whether in a lecture, presentation or conversation. Below you can find several useful pieces of advice that will help develop communicative skills.
How to Listen Efficiently
1. Prepare. Make sure you are able to reject distractions and concentrate on what your interlocutor is going to say.
2. If you realize that you do not have a clear understanding what the person is talking about, ask for clarifications. You can use such a helpful phrase as “I would just make sure I have got what you said correctly…,” etc.
3. Let the speaker know that you have heard and understood his or her opinion, for instance, “I see that you feel very excited right now.” “It seems like you are worried about what happened.”
4. One of the tips of effective communication is posture. Ensure your posture demonstrates you are interested in conversation. You should stand at an appropriate distance, facing the person. Have your legs and arms relaxed, do not cross or fold your arms “like a barrier”.
5. Keep an eye contact. However, it should not be uninterrupted as the person can consider it offensive or aggressive. An effective eye contact consists of “bursts” of contact with movement to other parts of the interlocutor’s face and looking away.
How to Show You Are Listening
1. Use minimal encouragers. Such words and sounds, such as “mmm…” “oh” “really” “ok”, and body movements. For instance, nodding your head demonstrates your interlocutor that you have interest in what he or she is saying.
2. Ask open questions, which require more than just a monosyllabic answer, like “yes” or “no”. You can use such questions, such as “How do you feel about it?” “What would you like to do with it?”
3. Use attentive silence. If you do not jump in when your interlocutor just stops talking, you give him or her space he or she needs to think over what was said.
How to Understand You Have Heard Right
1. Use paraphrasing. Provide your interlocutor with the synopsis of what he or she was saying. It has to contain the essence of the speaker’s words. This is one of the most effective listening tips. Using paraphrasing, you show a person that you have heard and understood him or her.
2. Reflect back the emotions. This means that you have to go beyond the words the speaker uses and notice his/her feelings. Pay attention to his/her body language, tone of the voice. Among useful phrases are “You look upset about it…”; “I guess you are very happy at the moment…” etc.
3. Summarize. When the discussion ends, revisit main points of conversation and add some outcomes to them.
Remember that effective listening and communicative skills can be improved only with practice. So, if you want to become a good interlocutor, begin with listening: make sure you have a full understanding of the person’s words, keep an eye contact, show you are listening, and ensure you have heard everything right.