The art of conversation🗣: Listening 🙉 skills matter

I had the pleasure of connecting with an old a long-time friend this morning. We sat on my back deck and enjoyed some conversation and some much needed sun*. 

*Side note: In this part of Canada, we’ve been experiencing a crappy Spring. So whenever the sun decides to make an appearance we immediately migrate outside. ☀️😎

Anyways back to my story. As I was saying, my friend and I enjoyed some conversation and sun. However, it’s the conversation that I really want to chat about.

It was a truly lovely conversation. We talked about nothing and everything. We talked about old friends, family, past careers, future dreams, and reminisced. But it’s not the topics that made the conversation so great. It was the fact that we were both fully engaged in the conversation. We listened to each other.

Both of us left our phones in the house. We looked at each other. We didn’t interrupt each other. 

Listening is an incredibly important skill and one that we sometimes suck at. Just a few minutes ago I was on the phone with my mom and did a pretty shitty job of listening to her. I was distracted by my iPhone, I kept looking at my computer, and I was thinking about this blog post I wanted to write – ironic, right??

Listening is key to good communication. Communication is key to solid relationships. Basically, if you want good relationships (personal or business) you need great listening skills.

With that in mind, here are five tips to better listening:

TIP #1 – Eliminate distractions

It’s hugely annoying to have a conversation with someone who continually checks their phone or is constantly looking around. Stop whatever else you’re doing. Put your phone in silent mode and place it somewhere out of sight. And for the record, if it’s a phone conversation, the other person knows when you’re distracted. You’re not fooling anyone.

TIP #2 – Be fully present

When I say be fully present, I don’t mean you need to be physically present (although that’s nice when you can manage it). I mean you need to be mentally present. Now isn’t the time to think about how pissed you were when that guy cut you off this morning.

TIP #3 – Look at the person while they’re speaking

Stop looking around at everything but the person you’re supposed to be listening to. You can’t be fully present (See Tip #2) if you’re not looking at the person. Clearly this tip doesn’t apply if it’s a phone conversation.

TIP #4 – Listen to understand

Fully listen to what is being said before offering a response. Stop thinking about your response before the other person is even done speaking. You can’t truly and fully understand what is being said if you keep thinking about clever responses.

TIP #5 – Clarify

Ask questions or restate what you heard to make sure you really understand what is said. Restating what’s said or asking for clarification shows the other person that you’re truly listening.

"Can you hear me now?" clip from AT&T commercial
Can you hear me now?

Remember listening is not just “hearing”. Hearing spoken words requires so much more than the ability of our ears and brains to process and recognize the words.  

If you follow the above tips you just may find your conversations (and relationships) are the better for it.

Now to you.

What’re your thoughts on listening skills? Do you have any tips to add? Do you disagree with any of the tips provided? I’d love to know so comment below!

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