In one ear and out the other—we hate when people do not listen to us. How hard is it to just hear a few words and process them appropriately? Well, depending on the circumstances, it could be harder than we think. In an article for the Cut, Kristin Wong discusses the psychology and physical steps involved in better listening.
Hear the Truth
There are varied ways that someone can be bad at listening. For instance, someone with anxiety or low self-esteem may have a hard time listening because he or she is so preoccupied with worrying about being judged (a bit ironic). Or maybe a person hears what we are saying but makes no effort to match our level of enthusiasm; perhaps that person casually changes the topic instead.
To be good listeners, people should start by focusing more on the words being said than on themselves. Maintaining eye contact and giving an occasional nod are useful to indicate that a person is at least trying to follow the conversation. And to be an even better listener, people should ask questions about what they are being told. Asking questions early in a conversation shows a level of investment in the conversation. That being said, the questions should be natural and not overly frequent—it would be weird to ask eight separate questions about the soda someone got with their lunch.
Wong says that, ultimately, becoming the “best listener” requires empathy. A good way to practice empathy in a conversation is with “reflective responses,” which consist of three parts:
First, you are reflecting the speaker’s emotions. So if your best friend complains about an experience at work, you would say something like, Right, I get it. You felt anxious and cornered because you had to give a last-minute presentation, right? Second, instead of leading a conversation, reflective responses require you to, y’know, respond. So instead of making the conversation about your own point of view, you allow it to follow the path of the speaker’s thoughts, opinions, and emotions. Finally, you respond not to the content of the conversation, but to the emotion — how the speaker feels about the subject.
For additional elaboration on these ideas—and to complete your mastery of listening—you can view the original article here: https://www.thecut.com/2017/12/how-to-be-a-better-listener.html