Are you a good listener? Everyone likes to think of themselves as approachable and easy to talk to. But when it comes to actually listening to what someone has to say? Not so much. We’re sure most of us have zoned out while listening to our co-worker’s holiday plans, or that one science professor who loves to talk about their lives. While you may feel guilty or even inconsiderate, know this that it is actually completely normal. The average human attention span ranges anywhere between 8 to 10 seconds. With modern technology keeping us on our toes, work commitments that continue to plague our mind, listening to someone with 100 per cent attention seem like a daunting task. Which is why we are here to help you out. Don’t you worry, girl, we’ve got your back!
What Does it Mean to Be a Good Listener?
To truly listen to someone is an important skill to cultivate. It is a vital skillset to have and helps you to connect with your peers and superiors around you. Throughout the day, we are all so up in our own heads that we tend to forget that the people in our lives are actually people, with worries and thoughts of their own. It is easy to think of our peers as the side characters from a film. But when we do realize that they aren’t just that, listening to them becomes even more important.
Unlike hearing, listening requires an active (though mostly silent) interaction among the speakers and the listeners. Participation and active interest are key to make the conversation fruitful. Really listening, letting someone speak and genuinely paying attention to what they have to say is difficult. But, it is also the foundation to build trust, companionship and even compassion.
How to Identify Good Listeners?
Good listeners are rare to find, but once you do, you are sure to have a bounty of amazing conversations laying ahead of you. You will see a whole spectrum of people around you on a day to day basis. But to pick out the wheat from the chaff, you need to know what qualities to look for in a good listener.
Have you ever tried to have a conversation with someone, only to notice them checking their phone every two seconds, or look visibly zoned out? Not only is it embarrassing to talk to such a person, but it is also a little bit of an insult.
Body language is a significant indicator of whether someone is actually enjoying the conversation or just pretending to for the sake of society.
Interruptions are also a huge mood kill. No one likes interruptions to their thought process, and cutting someone off to iterate your own thoughts can leave them feeling misunderstood, irritated and unwanted.
Being a good listener does not only mean to avoid these common, unconscious mistakes. It also requires a person to show that they are genuinely interested in what the other person is putting out. Good listeners do play a passive speaking role when you consider their contributions to the conversation at hand. However, they show their interest explicitly by way of their body language and the follow-up questions they ask.
They respect the person they are in conversation with, even if their points of view or opinions are in two different directions. The end goal of a good listener is to make the speaker feel elated, confident and that what they had to say has been heard with rapt attention.
Qualities of a Good Listener
1. They are fully present
Good listeners always intend to engage themselves in the conversation. They have most of their concentration on the discussion at hand. In fact, they process information as it is told to them, rather than delving into their past with the speaker or getting distracted by future worries. Their intention is to try and avoid all distractions around them and devote their utmost attention to the speaker only. They also maintain good eye contact. Their face conveys their thoughts, and they are open to respond as and when the conversation makes it necessary.
2. They don’t listen to respond
Good listeners are content with just listening to the other, provided the conversation is engaging enough. Sometimes our mind gets so preoccupied with thinking of a suitable response; we unconsciously tune out the rest of the conversation. The result of this is that we give off an unimpressed air and seem almost bored. Good listeners do not listen to conversations just to focus on what they can contribute to it themselves.
3. They don’t have an agenda
Good listeners do not initiate conversations for a specific reason. You can always sense when someone is talking to you with a particular agenda in mind. They come across as restless, agitated and impatient. Good listeners are not hoping for a particular outcome of the conversation, and so, the conversation flows rather naturally. Their responses are not calculated, but they respond to how they deem correct at that moment.
4. They never interrupt
It is highly frustrating to hold a conversation with someone who continuously interrupts your flow of speech. It may derail your train of thought and take you farther away from the point. Forgetting a point that was important to mention can also lead to misconceptions or miscommunications later. Good listeners understand speakers well and let them complete their dialogue before interjecting with their own opinions or thoughts. If they have questions, they wait for the speaker to finish and then go back to the point they were confused by. This doesn’t mean good listeners do not add to the conversation, but instead, wait for their turn to speak.
5. They listen as much as they speak
Balance is always a universal key to everything in life. Good listeners speak as much as they listen, and listen much more than they speak. They don’t worry about having to get their point across, not are they under pressure to add to the conversation. Their responses are appropriate and meant to guide conversations in a positive direction. They are focused on what the speaker is saying, and to them, their own responses are secondary in importance.
Being a good listener is a benefit; not many people can explore. Learning to be a good listen