Connected listening is about really focusing on what the other person is saying, how they are saying it, how they look, stand and move when they are speaking and how connected they are to what they are saying. You need to be genuinely interested in understanding the other party and listen with your complete attention to create an energetic connection.
Here are 10 techniques to help you to listen in order to understand what the other person is saying to you.
1. Stop Talking- Even in Your Own Head!
When the other person is talking, really focus on them and just listen to what they are saying; do not interrupt, talk over them or finish their sentences for them. One of the biggest traps is focusing on your response before the other person has finished talking. If you catch yourself thinking about your response, you are not listening. If you catch yourself thinking about your response, you are not listening
2. Be Patient – Don’t Jump In
A pause, even a long pause, does not necessarily mean that the speaker has finished. Be patient and let the speaker continue in their own time. Sometimes it takes time to formulate what to say and how to say it, especially if you are discussing a difficult or heartfelt matter.
3. Help Them Feel at Ease
Be relaxed and gentle with the other person; nod or use small gestures or gentle words that acknowledge you have heard them and encourage them to continue. Maintain active and connected eye contact – not a bland stare that will make them think your lights have gone out.
4. Avoid All Distractions
Put other things out of your mind and give the other person your full attention. Don’t doodle, shuffle papers, look out the window, pick your fingernails (and especially not your nose), read emails, text anyone, lookup Facebook or any other sort of behaviour that takes your attention away from them. Avoid all the interruptions you can. These behaviours disrupt your listening process and send messages to the speaker that you are bored or distracted and not listening to them.
5. Avoid Any Personal Prejudice
Everybody has a different way of speaking and expressing themselves – some people are more nervous or shy than others, some make excessive hand movements, some people like to pace whilst talking and others prefer to sit still. Focus on what is being said and be accepting of their delivery style and not judgmental of them.
6. Take In Their Tone and Volume
Volume and tone both add to the words we say – words and sentences can mean totally different things depending on the tone in which they are expressed. Everybody uses pitch, tone and volume to add expression and emphasis to what they are saying and convey certain emotions which help you understand the meaning of what is being said and what is underlying their words.
7. Watch for their Non-Verbal Communication
More than half of what we say is expressed in our gestures, facial expressions and eye-movements which are integral to understanding what the person really means. We don’t just listen with our ears but also with our eyes to take into consideration aspects such as how they are sitting and are they looking at you, to discern the additional information being expressed via their body language. More than half of what we say is expressed in our gestures, facial expressions and eye-movements
8. Engage with Empathy, Compassion and Respect
Try to understand the other person’s point of view; see the issues from their perspective and respect their need to express themselves. Put yourself in their shoes to understand how they are feeling. That is what having empathy means. Respect and accept them just as you want them to accept and respect you and what you say.
9. Keep Listening Even When You Don’t Agree
Having empathy does not mean you have to agree with everything they say but do not stop listening to them if you don’t agree. Hear them out. Do not tell them they are wrong or they don’t understand as this will just inflame the situation. Accept that each of you have the right to your own opinion. You may have to agree to disagree.
10. Listen for the Whole Story – Not Just Words
Use your intuition and insight to listen with your heart to complete the picture of their feelings and perceptions. When the other person has finished what they are saying, relay your understanding of what they said back to them to clarify your comprehension and ensure you have received their message accurately – especially in a complex discussion or argument.
Which of these do you use or not use? Try to adopt them all and have fun seeing the connections you will make.
Janeen Sonsie – Get Real Communication
Janeen is the author of “Get the BALLS to Get REAL – How to Communicate Effectively to Build Healthy Relationships”. She loves helping people be true to themselves in their communication to build healthy and happy relationships, both personally and professionally. She is available for coaching, speaking and facilitation engagements.