The Art of Listening

Living in a family of eight members (yes that many), being the center child and still I do not like too much talking business. But on the other hand, I personally believe that I am a decent listener – I do not talk much to the proportion that I listen to others.

Strangers find it weird when I stay quiet, and they often end up saying ‘I talk too little, maybe you should speak a lot more’ – my family too feels the same, so do some of my friends. But, within myself, I find happiness when I listen to others with very little talking from my part.

My inner self is content and there is nothing else in this world that makes me as happy as that. My mind creatively explores much more when I happily and genuinely listen actively to others.

Oliver Wendell Holmes quoted, “To be able to listen to others in a sympathetic and understanding manner is perhaps the most effective mechanism in the world for getting along with people and tying up their friendship for good.”

Listening gets difficult at times, for me too. But that doesn’t stop me from holding others to speak out themselves. Instead I make use of some skills that are effective and described below to ensure that the opposite person feels that I am interested in what they are talking and listening keenly.

Point to be noted – Always ‘relax’ yourself during a conversation. Do not try too hard to start and end one.

  • Irrespective of what topic is the conversation help upon, slightly leaning towards the direction of the talking person seated/standing makes an impact that you care about the conversation and more importantly the self-esteem of the speaker rises higher. This takes not much effort and leaves a positive and lasting effect each time you do this.
  • Looking at the speaker in moderation, no matter how bored you get not only allows the person to communicate their feelings but can also help you make an estimation if the person speaking is actually being honest about the talk or speaking in the air. This action also helps you concentrate better on what they are saying. Eye contact is a must even though it lasts for a few seconds!

Note: Do not continuously gaze at the opposite person – it gets intimidating and all the more if he/she is a shy personality

  • Agreeing to a person with non-verbal cues like a smile or nod in between a conversation encourages the speaker and shows them that you are actively listening to them.
  • Let the person finish their say and to points where you really agree say ‘yes’. By doing this, the speaker will get a certainty as to what message he/she is willing to convey is understood and accepted by you.
  • It’s always nice to ask questions for your own good and also for the speaker during a conversation. Not too many and definitely not random (out of context) questions. But asking questions in a certain manner like ‘As you pointed out earlier….’ Will help you in a nice an effective manner solve your queries that were not completely understood by you, and also will help the person know that you actually were genuinely listening to them. You will get your solution immediately.
  • Posture matters – Never cross your arms and sit at an ongoing conversation. It may be a comfortable posture for many but this subconsciously denotes that you are bored and want the conversation to stop ASAP.
  • Do not interrupt the person while speaking. Let him/her complete their part and then speak to what you have to say. This increases chances of developing a good friendship and a no awkward moment. Also you can always get back to the person even over a phone call without any sort of hesitation.
  • Always thank the person for their time and effort of speaking. Let them know that you have appreciated them and their conversation. Give feedback and just be frank. This will help the opposite person to make alterations (if any required), the next time you’ll have conversation(s) together. By doing this, it’ll only make life easier to deal with people.
  • Lastly, remember when at times you need to be heard to, the opposite person will respond to your talks in the same manner as how they felt while they were speaking to you. Hence, always listen to others VERY WELL.

With practice, the art of listening actively will surely make an impression and self-happiness will be achieved! 🙂

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