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JonnyCeltics's avatar

In general, how can I become a better listener?

Asked by JonnyCeltics (2664 points ) July 17th, 2012

My thoughts (read: ego?) get in the way a lot, fearful of having them leave my head before the other person finishes. So I often blurt. Or focus on the thought to let them finish, but then tune them out.

I want to be a better listener—even in spite of (and not limited to the aforementioned details)—how can I do it?!

Some tips please :)

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12 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

Tell yourself that when the speaker is finished, you do not have to answer. That allows you to focus on what he or she is saying rather than what your rebuttal will be.

tom_g's avatar

What @gailcalled said. Take this as an opportunity to try to learn more about your speech. What are your motivations when speaking, for example? Are you trying to present a particular image? Are you trying to impress? You could learn some uncomfortable things about yourself by merely contemplating your speech.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

I have the same challenge, although for different reasons. Here is what I have learned from good listeners.
* They stop whatever they are doing and focus on what is being said.
* They do not jump to conclusions.
* They do not try to problem-solve unless asked to do so.
* They ask questions to aid in a better understanding. These questions start with open-ended statements, like ‘Who’, ‘What’, ‘Where’, ‘How’, and ‘Why’. They are not delivered in a tone that would put the person on defense.
* The “Feel/Felt/Found” process is used. Basically, it is, “I understand how you feel. Others have felt the same way. What they have found is….”
* Avoid using words like, ‘but’ and ‘however’. The message that precedes it is negated by whatever follows.
* Follow up with the person. A simple, “We talked X amount of time ago. How are you doing?” will provide insightful information.

While these tips might come naturally to some, practice can accomplish the same result.

Cruiser's avatar

If a thought I have is one I need to remember, I press my index finger into my palm as a reminder of that thought. This can be done very discreetly and I will repeat as the thoughts accumulate and often run out of fingers! lol!

Coloma's avatar

I agree with @Pied_Pfeffer

It is also called “presence”, or, the art of being 100% attentive ( present) with the speaker.
Drives me nuts, I just had this experience the other day and was rolling my eyes to myself when I realized what I had just finished saying was completely obliterated and the other person just launched into their own diatribe.
We can all work on being better listeners, and yes, asking questions and clarifying what was just said is huge as well.

I am always blown away by how little others ask questions to either clarify or to engage another in their sharings.

Judi's avatar

ask more questions. ovey says, “Think first to understand, then to be understood.”

mowens's avatar

Sit down, shut up, and repeat the end of every 6th sentence in an inquisitive tone.

Trillian's avatar

Stephen Covey said “Seek first to understand.” He also said “Most people listen with the intent to respond instead of listening with the intent to understand.”
That seems to sum it up for me. People like to be heard, and the flow of information generally has an agenda. Listen to conversations around you with this thought in mind. You’ll be amazed at how little people actually listen to each other.
To successfully understand the other person, you have to completely let go of your expectations, biases and ego.
Repeating back for the sake of paraphrasing is, to me anyway, patronizing.
Just let go of your “self”, and don’t plan to resond back. Practice, and keep trying.
Review later and go back over key points. Be honest with yourself. And remember, the other person siprobably not trying to understand you.
Good luck, this is a good thing that you’re doing.

Judi's avatar

@Trillian , I missed the C somehow in Covey and now it’s to late to edit! I HATE when that happens!

Trillian's avatar

@Judi This is what happens when I don’t read other responses before I post my own. I try not to so as not to be influenced in what I write. It never ceases to amaze me that people want to get into disagreements with others who are simply answering the OP with their own opinions. I answer a question to respond to the asker, not get into it with others who disagree with me…
So, hehehehe, yeah, I see your missing “C” now.
I spelled “is” backward and missed the space right after. How the heck does that happen?

Sunny2's avatar

Keep your mouth shut and your ears open. Concentrate on what is being said, not what you want to say in response. Answer with a question, not a diatribe.

Elm1969's avatar

I found that if I watch the OP’s mouth when they are talking it helps me to keep focused on what they are saying.

I give eye contact every so often to reasure the person that I’m listening. This way I take in and understand more than I used to.

Before I started to use this tecnique I often felt like I was listening to Charlie Brown’s teacher if you know what I mean.

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