How to Understand the Other Person

Are you a good listener?

When you walk out your door in the morning and you’re headed for the office, can you hear the birdsong or the crickets chirping? Perhaps these days you’re working from home and have set up shop in the spare bedroom. What are you listening to?

Active listening is a skill we can practice with every moment. We can hone this skill with our environment, nature, other people, and spiritual selves. Listening fully requires a high level of self-awareness; you will have to be able to step outside of yourself in order to recognize the obstacles and distractions prohibiting you from forming a connection.

Active listening helps you earn someone’s trust by showing him/her you empathize with their situation or struggles. How often do we listen just to offer a friend space to be heard and perhaps solve their own problems? How many times have we been trapped by our own thoughts?

My Aunt Susyn is a fantastic empathic listen, not only personally but professionally as well. Working with her as my Career Coach, she always asked great clarifying questions and paraphrased my responses back to me to avoid any miscommunication. She continues to be one of my great role models for exemplifying great listening skills.

“The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them.” – Ralph Nichols

Benefits of Active Listening

Why practice active listening?

To become a better leader! You will gain influence with people because they will know you care about what they have to say. Good listening skills can lead to increased satisfaction in professional and personal relationships, greater productivity with higher accuracy, and increased collaboration.

You will develop conflict resolution skills. Diffuse tense situations by giving people the opportunity to be truly heard.

Want to improve your self-esteem and confidence? Active listening skills can help you connect with more friends and social networks.

How to Practice Active Listening

Practicing any skill first requires a level of self-awareness; you must understand your own personal style, and communication is no different. Understanding your current habits of how you communicate will go a long way toward helping you create meaningful relationships in your life. I highly recommend taking 7 minutes to complete a DISC personality assessment to understand your style!

1. Hold the Mirror

What does a mirror do? It reflects our image. People want to be listened to, not just heard! Active listeners reflect back what has been spoken to the speaker with paraphrasing statements such as, “What I’m hearing is…” or “Sounds like you are saying…”

2. Clarify

Make sure you really understand the meaning behind what the other person is saying. Asking follow-up questions demonstrates you are listening and that you truly want to understand their perspective.

3. Listen with an Open Mind

You may hear thoughts or ideas you don’t agree with. Be prepared to hear and consider all sides of an issue before deciding that you are right. Are you seeking the truth or just more concerned about being right?

4. Be Present

Avoid the common pitfalls by being fully engaged and in the Present moment with the person. Show respect and give them your undivided attention. Close your email, put your phone down, square your shoulders to the speaker and make eye contact.

5. Check Your Attitude

Create trust with your speaker by listening objectively. This non-judgmental attitude will open up the lines for honest communication and deepen your trust factor.

The next time you have a conversation, pay attention to your listening skills. Be Present, and practice self-awareness by asking:

  • How many times are you interrupting the speaker?
  • Are you making eye contact?
  • Looking at your phone?
  • Are you looking at the TV or perhaps out the window?
  • Are you only pretending to pay attention?
  • What did the speaker really mean?

Share with us below!

Who do you know that exemplifies Active Listening? What do you admire most about that person?

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Published by Aimee Wong

When she's not in the lab, you'll find Aimee officiating high school basketball games or at Saturday night family dinners. She's passionate about learning, lattes, and lifting weights.

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