There are so many ways people can improve their listening skills. Different situations call for different types of listening. Some are more receptive and some are more directive.
Silent listening: Sometimes it is important just to be there and not say anything. In this situation you turn hearing into being and avoid interjecting or advising.
Question: use sincere nondirective questions that indicate interest and learn about others’ thoughts, feelings and needs. It is important not to use questions that are condescending or cause someone to be defensive.
Paraphrasing is restating in your own words. This is where you can verify that you understand what the speaker is saying rather than assuming. Always verify and never assume to try to achieve the highest understanding.
Empathizing is showing that you identify with and care about the speaker. It means to be “other oriented,” and it validates the speaker’s emotions and perceptions. The opposite of empathizing would be to denying the speaker the right to his or her feelings, minimizing the significance of the situation, self-defending, or one-upping.
Analyzing provides an interpretation of the speaker’s message. When analyzing, make sure your motive is to help not condescend and offer interpretation in a tentative way such as “Maybe the reason is…”
Evaluating: appraising the speaker’s thoughts or behaviors in some way. This can be favorable or unfavorable. The best chance of someone being receptive of evaluating is if the person has requested it and it is not meant to be critical or as a put- down or an “I told you so..”
Advising: This is best offered when:
The person wants to hear suggestions
The person is ready to accept it
Your input is a suggestion “You many want to…” vs. “You should…”
You know you won’t be blamed if the advice doesn’t work out.
Become a better listener by adapting your listening to different types of situations as well as the different styles of people. Choose to listen and eliminate distractions. Consider your strengths and weaknesses in listening and responding.
Enjoy the Rest of Your Weekend!