1. Make eye contact
Making eye contact when someone is talking to you should be a given. But you’ll be surprised at how many people still do not. People who avoid eye contact can come across as dishonest and disinterested, so make an effort to always look the person you’re listening to straight in the eyes.
2. Drop everything
While listening, are you eating, watching TV, playing a game on your tablet, or doing something on your computer? Whatever you’re doing, drop it for now and just listen to the other person talk. They will appreciate it and you will really be able to listen and be present for them as opposed to only partially listening.
3. Listen with your whole body
Engage your whole body, not just your ears and eyes.Your posture and body language is very important!Keep your spine straight, whether standing up or sitting down, and tilt your torso a little so that it faces the person you’re talking to. Lean forward to show interest.
4. Let the other person finish talking
Be patient and let the other person finish what they are saying. Never cut, butt in, interrupt, roll eyes, or make hand gestures to signify to the other person that you’re getting bored or impatient. Giving them your time means you’re really listening.
5. Listen more, talk less
Resist taking over most of the conversation as the other person will surely not appreciate a monologue. A good rule of thumb if you’re unsure is to talk 25% of the time and listen 75% of the time.
6. Withhold the judgement
Even though the person cannot hear your internal dialogue, it’s best to keep it quiet altogether. Really listening means you are offering a space to allow the person to get their message across and be who they are. They will be able to sense if you are judging them or not. Be generous and allow them this space as this is what listening is about: you’re providing not just your ears but also your time and space.
7. Do not take notes
It’s hard to break a habit formed from many years of schooling, but this idea of taking down notes when a person is talking to look smart or professional is already obsolete. If it’s a meeting and details need to be recorded, then opt for a digital recorder that is easily accessible with today’s smart phones, tablets, and other handy gadgets. Multi-tasking is to be avoided at all costs when listening. Taking notes is a major distraction; focus on the person talking instead.
8. Stay in the moment
Don’t think about what the other person is going to say next or what you should say next in order for you to look or sound smart. It’s okay to pause after the person has spoken and think first what you’re going to say next; as a famous quote says: “It’s better to remain silent and be thought of as a fool rather than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.”Fight the urge to always be ten steps ahead of the conversation;you are not really listening if you are thinking or planning your response.
9. Stop the mind chatter
While supposedly ‘listening’, our mind sometimes strays and ends up in a totally different place, situation, or ‘la-la’ land. Make a conscious effort and not let your thoughts run and drift away from the person you’re with. Focus and pay attention to what the person is saying. Anchor yourself to where you are and who you’re with and tell yourself: “ It’s important that I listen to this person right now.”Listening skills can be learned, and this list shows you how easy it is to become a good listener if you just make a little effort to be there for the other person. Having this basic skill is important if you want to maintain meaningful relationships both at and outside of work.
BA, MA Psychology (and Conflict Resolution), University of Cambridge (2007). With a decade of trial and error in psychology and 33 years of navigating my own complex (that's one word for it!) relationships with family, friends, co-workers and men, I hope I have some useful knowledge and skills to share with my readers about making sense of relationships and trying to become a better person every day.