Mutual understanding is crucial to progress in all aspects of social life, from the workplace to relationships with your family members and friends.
However, the rigors of fast-paced everyday life and numerous distractions hamper effective communication and listening.
Active listening in relation to face-to-face communication, as instant messaging makes it easier for people to reflect and structure their responses. They must be able to correctly assess the needs of other people within the time available to them. This minimizes the likelihood of disputes, facilitates dispute resolution, and deepens connections.
There are a variety of techniques one can use to improve active listening:
1. Keep gadgets aside during conversations
Gadgets are arguably the biggest barriers to active listening in today’s demanding, fast-paced world. Deadlines are never tight, leaving people at the mercy of their laptops and smartphones. There are endless online conversations and trending topics to keep up with.
However, active listening requires undivided attention in personal interactions ranging from work meetings to romantic dates. Gadgets simply need to stay down for all of these interactions.
2. Balance obligations
Sometimes you may have so many commitments that it can be difficult to put gadgets aside for long in face-to-face interactions with family and friends.
Because there are so many responsibilities that you may not be able to pay enough attention to, you must make a conscious choice to accept a limited number of responsibilities and delegate tasks as needed. This would make it easier to engage more in informal interactions with friends and family.
3. Maintain eye contact
Eye contact is one of the biggest indicators that someone is invested in an interaction or activity. Whether an interaction is face-to-face or a conference call, one must make a conscious decision to keep an eye on the person one is communicating with.
It is a respectful gesture that makes the other feel seen and facilitates a deeper understanding of what is being said.
4. Pay attention to non-verbal cues for what is unsaid
Communication and listening are more than just spoken words. You also need to pay attention to non-verbal cues like rapid eye movements and wriggling hands. Even in the most comfortable and conducive environment, one can still feel unsettled and unable to control oneself.
By combining spoken words and non-verbal cues, a person gets a better sense of how to respond effectively to the needs of the other party.
5. Ask questions, especially when in doubt
Asking questions is arguably the most effective way to understand the message another person is trying to convey. On the other hand, the person relaying a message would also have little doubt that they are not speaking in vain.
Questions help build a complete picture of things and potentially draw further attention.
6. Keep prejudice at bay
Everyone has prejudices and prejudices. These biases tend to interfere with active listening, so a speaker revealing a conflicting idea can be distracting to a listener.
However, active listening requires being prepared to encounter conflicting viewpoints in different interactions. It also requires you to consciously suppress judgmental feelings in order to understand the message other people are conveying.