The communication between two people consists of two significant roles – speaking and listening. Both are equally important, but the latter has been used ineffectively on many occasions. Good listener is the whole process of hearing someone speak with all the senses and the cognitive functions.
What differs hearing from listening is that hearing is just a biological process which entails the sound waves coming inside the ear from the external stimuli. At the same time, listening is a wholesome process that occurs when a person hears something and try to interpret and assimilate the new information.
Now that we know what listening is, we can understand what goes wrong in a “poor communication”. Most people complain about the other person passively listening or that they did not understand what they had listened to. Passive listening is the most common way people listen to each other, which is very wrong and makes communication ineffective.
Instead, we should actively listen to what the speaker says so that our mind can focus its attention and understand each information. Active listening is the skilful process of interpersonal communication which will help you in effectively communicate with the other person in a much better way. Active listening has many benefits in its pocket.
- It not only generates positive emotions in the other person but also it is a crucial element to a genuine and engaging conversation. It helps in our positive upliftment and personal fulfilment.
- Active listening has its significance embedded in the close and intimate relationship you have with another person. It brings you closer to that person at a psychological as well as spiritual level.
- It makes the bridge of trust and loyal much stronger than the bland conversations. If the person listens to whatever you are speaking about and also notices other things like your body language, the tone of your voice, the facial expressions, etc. Then it makes the person much trustworthy as that person has focused on what you were saying and not just nodded like in passive listening.
- The ‘small talks’ has the disadvantage of not actively listening to the person and making the conversations end at an ambiguous note. This makes the relationship doubtful, and the ambiguity makes the listener a suspicious person, leading to the end of a relationship.
How to become a good listener:
- Be attentive: This step is the first and foremost in the process of active listening. Attention means you are giving undivided focus to the speaker with no other distractions/stimuli in mind. This also means you find time and space mentally for this person’s information or whatever this person is speaking. Don’t move around much and keep steady eye contact and notice little things like their body language and their tone. This makes your understanding of what information is given, much better than ever.
- Keep eye contact all the time: This is one of the essential parts of active listening. We genuine like when someone actively listens to us and gives us their full attention and not just their physical self. When we are talking to someone, and they don’t even look in the eye for once, this makes the person suspicious and in to be kept in doubt because they are not paying heed to what you are saying. Eye contact makes the conversation have its depth, and it pulls both the persons much closer than ever.
- Have a non – critical perspective: Before listening to the person, clear your mind from any kind of judgments or biases. This gives you a chance to be as open-minded as you can for this new set of information you are receiving. This gives you a window to objectively have a unique perspective on a particular issue. You become more empathetic and considerate of the speaker.
- Validation of ideas and emotions: Validating someone’s thoughts and emotions make them feel they heard and acknowledged. This brings trust into an interpersonal communication as the person is accepting their ideas and feelings. It builds a connection of understanding each other’s thoughts and ideas. Being empathetic openly to the speaker makes the communication more intimate at an emotional level. Validation of feelings makes the other person feel like whatever they are going through is acceptable and is acknowledged.
- Summarise their issues/ideas: Rephrasing what the other person is saying means that you are listening to them and are interested in going ahead with the conversation. You can’t just nod your head while listening; you have to validate and tell what you have heard. This does two things – one; you show that you are a good listener and another that you are making sure of what you heard is correct or not.
- Analyze before responding: Now, this is also significant when someone is overly sentimental. You need to analyze the situation, the body language, and the information as well; to know whether to respond or not. This part is tricky for most of us. We all try to give advice or solutions when the other party does not need it. What is required sometimes is venting out of emotions and thoughts and just someone to listen to them.
- Know when to redirect the conversation: Sometimes, the person can be aggressive, might even become violent so to prevent that we have to know when to change the topic. This can be in the form of letting the person know your opinions and feelings. Also what you can do is try to confront them with consequences or the repercussions in the future. This will stop them from thinking over their present mental situation and maybe relax them to think clearly of what they want to address.
These few skills can make a huge difference in your listening. Effective communication can be maintained if the listener is actively paying attention and responding in a way that is comprehensive and empathetic towards the other person. Listening is a holistic process that consists of bodily function as well as mindful comprehension.