One of the most important skills you can ever learn is the art of active listening. It’s a skill that draws people in, makes people open up to you more, gets you noticed as an excellent conversationalist, and generally makes you more likable by almost anyone.
And, more often than not, you don’t even have to say a word.
Most people don’t actually listen to hear what you have to say — they listen to respond. They wait for the slightest pause in the conversation and then take over with a story of their own. Hello Conversational Narcissism.
But it’s not their fault, either… this is a common habit most of us struggle with. Unfortunately, it’s also a habit that ruins relationships (and the potential for new relationships) without you even knowing it.
Well, you need to learn to listen better — and you can do that by practicing the art of active listening as often as you can.
Here are three simple ways to get started.
1) Look ’em in the eyes
Yes, eye contact. It’s a powerful sign of active listening.
But use caution here — some people get uncomfortable with too much eye contact, and you’ll notice that when they start to look away from you.
If that’s the case, don’t be a creep and keep looking to lock eyes. But do continue to look in their general direction, and try to pick up eye contact whenever it feels comfortable again.
When you look at someone as they’re speaking, they’ll feel like you’re engaged. But if you’re looking somewhere else, they’ll feel like what they’re saying isn’t important — and they’ll be less inclined to carry on.
2) Stop getting distracted
This one goes hand in hand with eye contact.
If you’re always checking your phone… or looking over at a clock… or playing with your hair… or picking your nails… or constantly looking away at everything that moves (SQUIRREL!)…
…. how do you think that makes the other person feel?
Without your words, you’re basically saying “Wrap it up. I’m bored. Get on with it already!” As a result, they shut down and stop talking.
The trick, though, is to keep these distractions to a minimum.
Imagine speaking to someone when, all of a sudden, you hear a big BANG! But instead of looking away to see what it was, the other person keeps looking at you, waiting for you to continue on with whatever it was you were saying.
You’d think to yourself “Damn, this person is really interested in this.” You’d feel good. You’d feel heard. And you’d even like that person a little more.
Give that gift on non-distraction to everyone you speak to and they’ll feel exactly the same.
3) Repeat it back to them
This one can only be accomplished if you’re actually listening — and it’s one of the most powerful tools an active listener can use.
If you get it right, the other person will not only feel heard and appreciated, but also like what they said was INTERESTING. And if you can make someone feel that way, they will absolutely love talking to you.
Basically, what you’re doing is paraphrasing back to them what you’ve heard. You’re remembering little details and repeating them to show comprehension and understanding.
You can start by saying “Let me get this straight…” and then repeating whatever you remember about the story. They might say something like “That’s exactly right,” or they’ll correct you and expand on the story a little more.
Either way, you’ve shown 1) that you heard what they had to say, and 2) were interested enough to remember details and confirm the story back to them.
Do not underestimate the power in doing this — it’s one of the most surefire ways to make someone feel happy for taking the time to talk to you.
If you practice these three techniques as often as you can, you’re going to find that people want to talk to you more. They’ll want to open up to you about what’s going on in their lives. They’ll want to share their stories with you. And they’ll want to reach out and connect with you more often.
And it’s not because you know exactly what to say.
It’s not because you have the most interesting stories to tell, either.
No, it’s because you actively listen to them — and in doing so, make them feel good about themselves. Like they can be heard and appreciated.
For most, that feeling is intoxicating. And the best part is that you can learn to give that feeling to anyone.
Two ears and one mouth mean you should listen twice as much as you speak.
Personally, I think it should be more. And if you apply these three techniques while doing it, you’ll be amazed how much it changes every single relationship in your life.
And when you’re ready