In today's fast paced environment it can be difficult to make time to listen to others as well as perhaps we should. However, not listening to someone fully can leave them feeling isolated or misunderstood.
Practice some active listening!
To become a better listener you must practice your active listening skills by making a conscious effort to not only hear the words that are being spoken, but to try and understand the overall message being delivered.
To do this you must pay attention to the other person very carefully. Here are some suggestions to help you actively listen in a conversation:
- Summarise. Check your understanding when someone is speaking to you by briefly summarising the main points of what they have said.
For example, by saying 'So, you feel like you have a heavy workload at the moment but not a great deal of support' you can show that you have taken on board what has been said and can make the person feel that they have been heard, and more importantly, understood.
- Reflect. Picking up on key words in a conversation and repeating them back to the speaker can encourage them to open up and talk in more depth about a situation and their feelings towards it.
For example, if someone says, 'It's been really stressful recently,' you can get them to elaborate by repeating the word 'stressful'.
- Clarify. You can check out your understanding by summarising key points (as above). However, by then asking 'Have I understood that correctly?' you can allow the other person to assess the situation themselves - clarifying the point for the speaker as well as for you.
- React. Think about how you feel as the other person speaks. Do you feel shocked? Surprised? Happy? Angry? By tapping into to your own feelings you can empathise more readily.
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