One of the idioms that your mom probably used to say is, “The reason you’ve got two ears and only one mouth is so you can listen more than you talk.”
We all feel like we’ve got a lot to say. But blabbing on and dominating conversations is the quickest way to lose connections with other people. Everyone wants to be heard. And not just heard, but listened to. There is a difference, you know.
The best way to become a better listener – and fast – is to stop making statements – and start asking questions.
All too often we spend the time when someone else is talking just thinking about what we’re going to say next — honestly we’re all guilty of this. But you’ll not only understand people better when you ask questions, it forces you to pay closer attention to what they’re saying. And they’ll see you as a better listener, too.
If you slip back into old habits, and launch into giving advice or steering the conversation to yourself, own up to it. It’s okay to say sorry… especially if they see you making an effort to be a better listener. And in turn, a better spouse, friend or coworker.
If you want to test yourself, try this listening exercise: For a week, at the end of every conversation where there’s information being exchanged… sum up what you’ve heard. It may not feel natural at first. But believe me, when you parrot back to someone what they’ve just said, it makes them feel like you care.
That means better relationships. And a stronger appreciation for the people in your life. When someone tells you “you’re a great listener” what they’re really saying is “you care about me.” And there’s no better way to show it than, well… keeping your mouth shut until the proper time.
To find out if you are a good listener, try taking this How Good are Your Listening Skills quiz.