Several great leaders share one thing in common. That is, they understand the value of active listening. They know that through active listening, one is able to get the most benefit from what others have to share. It also works vice versa. If you want to be heard and understood, you have to learn how to listen yourself first. Here are some effective ways to truly know how to listen that you can integrate into your conversational behavior:
Be ‘in the moment’
Focusing your mental awareness is one of the effective ways to take in what someone is saying. Thus, push those distractions aside and give that person the gift of your attention. In other words, be ‘in the moment.’ Showing focus will make the speaker feel important and at the same time allows you to actually hear what he is saying.
Ask the speaker to expand and clarify
When having a conversation, try to look for those areas of interest where you can further inquire. It is okay to ask the speaker to expand and clarify a specific topic without derailing his or her train of thought. In so doing, the speaker will also appreciate such interaction, while you’ll gain better understanding of the person’s perspective.
Meanwhile, you can also discuss and find out if there are action steps required after the conversation. This will also help the speaker assess their own relevancy to your needs. By showing appreciation for their sharing, you are also letting them know what you’ve found valuable from the conversation.
Holding up a mirror technique
In order to help alleviate conflict, several psychologists and counselors recommend this technique. Whenever there’s an opportunity, try to speak up and describe what you have just heard. You can also rephrase it in your own words, but make sure that you end it with a request for confirmation. In this way, the speaker feels that you are paying attention and fully engaged.
Turn down the inner voice
While internal analysis of any conversation is unavoidable, it’s often at the expense of objectivity. That voice may lead to the point which you are no longer listening to the speaker. You may take notes for example in order to quiet the inner voice. Then, you can process it on your own later outside the presence of the speaker.