Do you want to improve your listening skills?
Have you ever wondered how some persons can grab large chunks of information released within a short period of time?
If you have found yourself thinking about any of these, this article is for you.
Read on to understand what you should do or avoid to improve your listening skills.
How To Improve Listening Skills
Listening skill is a topnotch soft skill required of every human and it’s useful either in a business or social environment.
It does not only come in handy in your workplace.
It also comes in handy in your day-to-day activities.
Similarly, it helps you to communicate with people in every environment you find yourself in.
However, as important as this skill sounds, not everyone can boast of it.
That is majorly part of the reason why it is important to learn how to improve it.
Before that, you need to understand what it is.
What is Listening Skill All About?
Listening skill is the ability to receive information accurately, understanding and interpreting it exactly as it is.
It is deriving the actual meaning from a piece or pieces of information.
It is one thing to hear but also one thing to listen to.
Also, it is one thing to listen, and also a different thing to understand.
Therefore, when you listen to a speaker and understand what they have said and interpret it to others without missing out on some part of the information, you have great listening skills.
Like every other skill, listening skills can be learned and improved.
That is why there are some steps and tips to follow to improve your listening skills.
Effective Tips On How To Improve Your Listening Skills
Here are some simple steps you can take to improve your listening skills.
1Maintain Eye Contact With The Speaker; It Helps You To Improve Your Listening Skills
One of the first things to practice is giving the speaker undivided attention when improving listening skills.
This is mostly achieved by not just looking at them but maintaining eye contact with them.
Maintaining eye contact with your speaker helps you focus on what the speaker is saying and avoid unnecessary distractions.
It also helps you to listen effectively.
2Be Open-Minded To Improve Your Listening Skills
Open-mindedness is a key to learning a lot of things.
One of such things is improving listening skills.
Being open-minded entails listening or viewing something from a non-judgmental standpoint.
It also entails listening without mental criticism.
Being open-minded allows you to take note of all the speaker says.
When you become judgemental while listening to someone, you naturally inhibit your ability to grab the rest of what is being said.
Above all, being open-minded allows you to listen to your speaker without any form of mental distractions.
Thereby helping you to improve your listening skills
3Do Not Interrupt The Speaker
When a speaker is before us, we usually feel more eloquent and knowledgeable about the topic they are discussing.
We usually interrupt them at intervals because we feel we should correct them.
Also, sometimes when listening to people, questions arise.
We feel it is right to pause the speaker’s flow of thought and get the response to our questions.
First of all, bear in mind that it is not just wrong but rude to interrupt someone in a formal or informal setting.
Interrupting a speaker leads interrupts their flow of thought.
It also affects you because you may end up forgetting what you had in mind to say.
It further interrupts the rest of the listeners by distracting them.
To avoid such situation;
- Pen down your questions as they come to you.
- Write down your corrections and suggestions.
Doing these will help improve your listening skills and advance your people, interpersonal and communication skills.
4Practice Active Listening; It Will Boost Your Listening Skills
Active listening is a way of showing support to a speaker.
It helps both the speaker and listener to be on the same page.
Nonverbal listening cues like nodding, eye contact, etc., give your speaker the hope that you are on the same page with them.
It also helps you to focus on them.
Simple affirmations like, I understand, I get you, I do, thank you, etc., go a long way to help you concentrate on your speaker.
It also helps you to improve your listening skills.
5Create Mental Pictures; They Help You To Remain In The Present
Imagine listening to a podcast or any other recorded program, but your mind or consciousness drifts away to a different place or even to a different thought.
It happens to most people.
However, in a situation where your speaker is not present but virtual, a mental picture helps you focus your attention on what they say.
The mental picture you create should be you in the speaker’s presence or imagine those you are listening to.
Maintain that picture throughout your listening session.
It will naturally prevent your mind from drifting away.
It will also help maintain your focus on what you hear, thereby improving your listening skills.
6Relax and Listen
One of the greatest fear of being a member of an audience is not knowing what you would give out as your response when the session becomes interactive.
This thought causes major distraction when it comes to listening.
However, one of the best ways to conquer it is to be calm.
You have to relax and listen because whatever you will say will have to come from what your speaker has said or inspired by their words.
Therefore, do not fine-tune the lines of the sentences you would give out in response to your speaker while someone is talking to you.
You should know that you can not be thinking of what to say while you listen to your speaker at the same time.
It is impossible.
In fact, you will forget what you heard earlier and lose out on what the speaker is currently saying in the process.
One way to go about this is to take notes of the major key points.
It will solve your problem of what you would say during the interactive session.
Hence, to improve your listening skill, be calm and not think of what you would say.
Rather, think of what the speaker is saying.
7Do Away With Distractions
One major cause of divided attention is distractions.
These distractions can be both internal and external.
Imagine a friend sharing a deep thought with you, and you have an incoming call.
When that happens, you are torn between taking the call and not taking it.
On the other hand, your friend will have to pause what they are saying to allow you to take your call.
When the call ends, you may have forgotten half of what was discussed earlier.
But in a case where you turned off your phone, reduced the volume of your television, centered your mind on the person discussing with you, your discussion goes smoothly and uninterrupted.
Hence, to improve your listening skill, always do away with distractions.
8Invest More Time In Listening Than Talking; It Improves Your Listening Skills
When you are in the midst of your friends or acquaintances who share their personal experiences, allow your friends to do more of the talking while you listen.
Allow them to get it all out so that you won’t sound off point when you want to contribute.
Also, even if you were invited to give advice, allow the other person to tell their story full before you come in.
It will give you ample time to gather your thoughts.
Doing so will not only improve your listening skills it will also help you to fine-tune your speaking skills.
9Always Ask Questions
One of the easiest ways of improving your listening skills is by asking questions after most discussions.
Asking questions related to what your speaker had said gives you another opportunity to hear a better version of it.
It also gives you the opportunity of correcting your misconceptions of those things that you misheard.
Similarly, it helps you to get more info about the topic being discussed.
However, while asking questions, endeavor to ask non-judgemental questions.
They allow the speaker to open up more about the topic on the ground.
It further improves your speaking, listening, and communication skills.
10Practice Reflective Thinking; It Boosts Your Listening Skills
Reflective thinking is an aspect of the developmental process that is always overlooked or under-emphasized.
This is because most persons consider it unimportant.
After every discussion or conversation, to improve your listening skills, make out time to think about how you did during the discussion.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Did I give my speaker all my attention?
- Was I distracted at some point?
- If yes, what was the source of my distraction?
- Did I interrupt the speaker at any point?
- Did I give them room to discuss?
- Was I open-minded?
While doing this, remember to do it without judging or criticizing yourself.
The essence is to evaluate yourself and help yourself grow, not to condemn yourself.
After the evaluation, if you feel you did not do well, do not wallow in self-pity and self-hate, rather encourage yourself to do better next time.
Most times, we imagine that when we do two things at a go, we are smart and improving ourselves.
But the truth is that one of those two things is suffering due to our divided attention.
Imagine trying to construct an email message when on a conference call; it will be full of error.
You may even give out what you are discussing in the email as part of the email message.
Also, you will lose out on some of the information being passed during the call.
As much as it feels like technology makes multitasking visible and doable, it is better to attend to tasks one after the other.
More so, when you give your full attention to a speaker without trying to multitask, it aids your understanding of what is being discussed.
It also improves your focus and your listening skill.
Mediation requires a high level of concentration.
It is not just about closing your eyes and sitting still.
Meditation challenges you to go deep within yourself.
It brings you to a state where you become oblivious to the noise in your environment.
This single act makes you learn how to focus on something for a very long time.
To improve your listening skills, focusing on a thing can help you get rid of distractions.
Thereby improving your ability to listen without minding the noise in your environment.
Benefits of Improving Listening Skills
Improving listening skills helps in building communication skills
One thing that comes with great listening skills is outstanding communication skills.
These things go hand-in-hand.
The beautiful thing about developing your listening skill is that it indirectly builds your communication skills.
It helps you earn respect and trust
Everyone likes to be respected and trusted.
Another thing that comes with improving your listening skill is respect and trust.
These usually happen when you are always called upon to listen to a particular situation on the ground.
From being called upon frequently, you will also become trusted with big responsibilities.
If you are in a team, you may be made the team- lead because of it.
Overall, effective listening skill is one of the qualities that makes you a good team leader.
It fosters good relationships.
Effective listening would also help you build good relationships with the people around you.
People see you as someone that gives them your time and attention.
Also, it helps them connect to you on a deeper level.
Thereby fostering good relationships.
Final Thoughts On How To Improve Listening Skills
In all, listening skill is a great soft skill to have because it is compatible with every aspect of life.
With it, you can earn trust and respect for yourself.
It also helps you to develop great communication skills.
Also, being an active listener helps your speaker to always open up to you in honesty.
More so, it helps you to resolve conflicts no matter how complex they are.
However, to build your listening skills, always remember to give your speaker undivided attention by doing away with all forms of distractions.
Do not multitask while listening.
It will make you lose focus and concentration.
Always maintain eye contact with your speaker.
First, it makes them realize that they have your undivided attention and propels them to open up more to you.
On the other hand, it helps you to understand what they are saying easily.
Similarly, practice open-mindedness.
This will put you in a position to always learn something new.
More so, avoid listening from a place of judgment.
When you do that, it grants you access to understand many things and opens your eyes to new things.
Furthermore, practice listening.
The essence of constant practice in learning new skills can never be over-emphasized.
You need to always practice these things daily.
That is the only way they can get into you and become part of you.
When they become part of you, you can finally boast of being a great listener.