The Art of Listening

Over the past few years i’ve realized how much I dislike listening in one on one conversations and how much I enjoy attention. This destructive tendency can jeopardize any relationship which is why I have been fighting it. I’ve learned a few things along the way that have helped me become a better listener. I hope they help you as well.

Be genuinely interested in people

Sometimes you really don’t care about a story or opinion. It’s important to take interest in the person sharing them. Caring for people allows me to enjoy stories that I don’t find exciting, or opinions that I am indifferent to.

Follow up with questions

Following up is about asking relevant and helpful questions. It can be very easy to kill a conversation. People know when their words aren’t appreciated. I’ve found that asking questions is a more effective way of engaging others than offering advice or opinions. Have them flesh out their thoughts or give examples. It shows that you are engaged and allows meaningful conversational to take place.

Give people time

To get the best thoughts out of people, don’t pressure them to talk faster than they are comfortable with. I am trying to wait for a minimum of 3-5 seconds of silence before I respond. I used to feel awkward about this, But a quick nod fills this time and serves as a transition to a shift in conversation. If you are talking with someone who wants to have 100% of the time to talk, be generous and give it to them. Playing tug of war in a conversation makes for a frustrating experience.

Zoning out and interrupting will kill your conversations. Appreciation and generosity will pump life into them.