Listening seems like a natural skill that we all can do, however not everyone remains present the whole time someone is talking.
In fact, our minds tend to wander when someone else talking and many of us start to think of our response.
Our emotions can also interfere with our ability to listen. Sometimes many of us misinterpret what someone is saying because we think that they saying something hurtful or uncalled for. Thanks to evolution our mind is always looking for threats.
But when it comes to conversation, a technique called ‘mindful listening’ might be able to help you out.
It encourages us to take a step back from our preconceived notions and focus fully on what the person is saying without judging them.
According to Elizabeth Dorrance Hall Ph.D. in Psychology Today, mindful listening is about actually understanding what the other person in the conversation is trying to convey:
“Listening mindfully requires us to comprehend what the other person is actually saying. Then we need to let them know we are paying attention and thinking about what they shared. We do this by showing interest and support through maintaining eye contact, nodding, smiling, and encouraging them to express their thoughts. In a sense, we become emotionally involved in their message and it shows.”
Here are 4 tips to practice mindful listening:
1) Are you preparing your answer before they’ve finished talking?
The first bad habit you need to catch yourself doing is when you prepare your answer before they’ve finished speaking. Many of us do this naturally because we want to avoid an awkward silence.
In fact, one study conducted by Faye Doell (2003) showed that there are two different types of listening: “listening to understand” and “listening to respond”. Those who “listen to understand” have greater success in their interpersonal relationships than others.
Try to be more spontaneous and take your time when you decide to speak. Just focus on their words and what they’re actually saying without judging and when it’s your turn to speak, take your time and let the words come to you.
2) Getting distracted
This is a big one, especially when we find ourselves a little bored in the conversation. Our minds wander all the time. It’s almost natural. Instead, use mindfulness and try to focus on the present moment.
Focus on the words they are speaking and when your mind drifts, simply return your focus back to what they are saying. It’s a great mindfulness practice to consistently do every day.
“The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention…. A loving silence often has far more power to heal and to connect than the most well-intentioned words. ” – Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen
3) Stop judging
When we listen to others speak, we naturally put labels and judgments on what they’re saying.
Many of us make snap judgments when we communicate with others, according to author Judith Johnson. This is a form of positional thinking – right/wrong, good/bad, desirable/undesirable.
But when we treat people like this, we are either accepting or rejecting someone or something they said.
These judgments can severely damage our conversations and the ability to develop a rapport with others.
Instead, try to catch yourself when you do so and put an end to it. Just let your mind take the words in without putting a judgment on them.
4) Don’t try to achieve anything
When we have a conversation, we tend to want a certain outcome to occur.
This can mean that everything we hear we attach to whether we are getting closer to the outcome we want for the conversation.
The result? We’re not truly listening to what the other person is saying.
Let go of having an end result and simply “be” in the conversation. Not only will you enjoy the conversation, but you’ll probably get more out of it too.
If you implement these 4 tips in your daily conversations, you might become more likable, friendly and better able to learn from every conversation you have.
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