Be a Great Communicator

A few tips to sharpen your listening skills

Rearrange the letters in the word LISTEN into a word that describes how you should be when someone is talking. The answer is SILENT. Almost everyone thinks they are good listeners, but more often than not, many of us want to chime in with a solution, judgment, an answer or story of our own before who we are talking with even get to finish. This can leave feelings of frustration and may cause the other person to be less likely to listen to you.

Here are a few good listening skills you can use to be a better listener:

  • Focus on the most emotional word in a person’s sentence and try to repeat it in some way. Then ask the person to talk more. Avoid giving advice or making a judgment to quickly.
  • Resist the urge to talk about yourself. If you say, “Gee, that’s too bad, but let me tell you what happened to me,” your not really listening.
  • It’s OK to set limits. You can’t help someone if you’re overwhelmed. Say something like “I’m really enjoying our conversation, but I need to get off the phone in about five minutes.” Mention that again just before the conversation ends.
  • For couples: Pick the right time. Wait at least 30 minutes after you both get  home from work before bringing up an important conversation. Think about what you want to say, and say it in a few words possible. Avoid generalizing by saying things like “you always” or “you never”.

What are some ways or tips you have for being a better listener? Have you seen a noticeable improvement in friendship or communication using these skills?