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In , a former bacon salesman published a tip that became one of the great rules of conversation:. If you aspire to be a good conversationalist, be an attentive listener. To be interesting, be interested. Ask questions that other persons will enjoy answering. Encourage them to talk about themselves and their accomplishments.
Remember that the people you are talking to are a hundred times more interested in themselves and their wants and problems than they are in you and your problems. We take listening for granted as a noble conversation skill. But listening too much—and especially using questions to do so—actually stands in the way of building good relationships.
You meet a friendly stranger and begin chatting. The stranger asks you about your work, then follows up with a question about something you mentioned, then another, then another. Every time the conversation lags, the person gets the ball moving again by asking another question.
You finally walk away having talked yourself hoarse and learned nothing. He or she contributed nothing. The better strategy is to use questions to introduce a topic, then follow up with statements, like so:. In other words, if you want to be a good listener, ask questions. But if you want to be interesting, share things. And if you want to be intriguing, share your point of view.
This is analogous, in fact, to what smart businesses have figured out with social media. By sharing interesting stories, a brand has a better chance of building relationships with customers than it does by asking them for their money or to answer a survey. People are generally interested in themselves. But the kind of people we want in our lives—business or personal—communicate to connect, rather than for the joy of monologuing.
If you want to build a relationship with someone, in other words, you need to share more and interrogate less. As it turns out, people like interest ing more than they like interest ed.
By Shane Snow 3 minute Read. In , a former bacon salesman published a tip that became one of the great rules of conversation: Shane Snow is cofounder of Contently and author of Smartcuts: LeBron believes for Nike, Truth and opioid detox Entertainment Nike showcases its mobile vision for the future of retail.
Design What the business world could learn from ballet Co. Design The future of passwords?
If you press too early and ask too many personal, probing questions, that may actually have the opposite of the intended effect and may make the person feel defensive and reluctant to share any information. Keep your patience and keep your place in the "teller's" shoes. It sometimes helps to imagine why the "teller" has worked into such a situation.
Do not interrupt with what you feel or think about the "telling". Instead, wait for the other person to ask your opinion before breaking the flow of their discourse.
Active listening requires the listener to shelve his or her own opinions temporarily and patiently await appropriate breaks in conversation. When the conversation breaks, provide a summary or an empathetic concurrence. If you interrupt the person too soon, then he or she will be frustrated and won't fully absorb what you're saying.
The person will be eager to finish saying his or her part and you'll be causing a nuisance and a distraction. Abstain from giving direct advice unless you're asked for it. Instead, let the individual talk the situation out and find his or her own way. This empowers both the individual and you. It is the course most likely to result in beneficial change and self-understanding for the "teller" and for you.
Whatever the conclusion of the conversation, let the speaker know that you have been happy to listen and to be a sounding board. Make it clear that you are open to further discussion if need be, but that you will not pressure him or her at all.
In addition, reassure the speaker of your intention to keep the discussion confidential. Even if the speaker is in a terrible situation and saying something like, "It's all going to be okay" seems completely inappropriate, you can still reassure the speaker by saying that you're there to listen and to help.
You can even pat the speaker's hand or knee, put an arm around him or her, or give another reassuring touch. Do whatever is appropriate to the situation. You don't want to overstep your bounds when it comes to touching.
Offer to assist with any solutions if you have the ability, time and expertise. Do not build up false hopes , though. If the only resource you can provide is to continue to be an active listener, make that very clear. This, in and of itself, this is an extremely valuable help. When giving advice remember to make it neutral and not too influenced by your own experiences.
Think about what is best for the person in question rather than what you did although this may help. Eye contact is important when you are listening.
If you give your friend the impression you aren't interested and are distracted, they may never open up to you again. When someone is talking to you, focus directly on their eyes so that they will know with certainty that you are absorbing every single word. Even if the topic is not interesting to you, at least respect and truly listen to what the speaker has to say. Don't stare off in space. Don't concentrate on thinking about what you will say next, but instead, focus fully on what the other person is saying.
Remember that it's about the person, not you. Give the speaker your full attention. If you want to be a good listener, then it's important for you to create a conducive physical and mental space.
Remove all distractions and confer all of your attention to the person who has something to say to you. Turn off communication devices including cell phones and arrange to talk in a place with no distractions. Once you are face-to-face, quiet your mind and pay attention to what the other person is telling.
Show them that you are helpful. Pick a place that is free of distractions or other people who might grab your attention. If you go to a coffee shop, make sure you're focused on the person who is speaking, not the interesting characters who walk in and out of the door.
If you're talking in a public place like a restaurant or a cafe, avoid sitting near a television that's on. Even if you're determined to give the person all of your attention, it can be tempting to take a quick look at the television, especially if your favorite team is playing. Encourage the speaker with body language. Nodding your head will indicate that you understand what the speaker is saying, and will encourage them to continue. Adopting body postures, positions and movements that are similar to the speaker mirroring will enable the speaker to relax and open up more.
Try looking straight into their eyes. Not only does this show you are listening, but it shows you take real interest in what they are saying. Another way to have encouraging body language is to turn your body toward the speaker.
If you're turned away from the speaker, then it may look like you're itching to leave. If you cross your legs, for example, cross your leg toward the speaker instead of away. Don't cross your arms over your chest, either. This will make you appear standoffish or skeptical even if you don't actually feel that way. Listen actively to express your interest.
Active listening involves the entire body and face — both yours and that of the speaker. You can be quiet while still making it clear that you are hanging on to every word that the speaker is telling you.
Here's how you can make the most of the situation by being an active listener: Though you don't have to say, "Mmhmm," "I see," or "Right," every five seconds or it will begin to get annoying, you can throw in an encouraging phrase here and there to show that you're paying attention.
If that person whom you are talking to really means something to you,then you will surely pay attention and help them sort out their problem if there is any.
Look interested and meet the gaze of the speaker from time to time. Do not overwhelm the speaker by staring intently, but do reflect friendliness and openness to what you are listening to.
Read between the lines: Always be alert for things that have been left unsaid and for cues that can help you gauge the speaker's true feelings. Watch the facial and body expressions of the "teller" to try to gather all information you can, not just from the words. Imagine what kind of state of mind would have made you acquire such expressions, body language and volume. Speak at approximately the same energy level as the other person.
This way, they will know that the message is getting through and that there is no need to repeat. Don't expect them to open up immediately. Be patient and willing to just listen, without giving any advice. Try to repeat what the other person is saying to confirm the exact meaning. Sometimes words can mean two different things.
The best way to confirm and avoid misunderstanding between the conversationalists is to repeat what the other person is saying so that the other person knows you were listening and both of you have the same idea. If they are a sensitive person, don't give them "tough love. Listening Tips Listening Tips. It means imagining how the other person feels.
It could also mean viewing the situation from the other person's point of view. For example, you may laugh at a blond joke, but your blond friend may find that same joke to be very offensive. If you "place yourself in your friend's shoes," you might see why your friend feels targeted and insulted. Not Helpful 5 Helpful Admit that you don't know about it and then do some research after the conversation.
Look it up on the internet or ask around. Don't pretend to know something you don't, because the person may find out later and decide not to trust you in the future. Not Helpful 8 Helpful Have you ever listened to your boss talk about his boring golf game? Or, have you ever listened to a small child talk incoherently about his day? One reason for listening is to give the speaker the pleasure of speaking.
Besides, would it be okay for people to ignore you every time they found you boring? There are things you can do, however, to make things more interesting. You can ask questions about the context or history. Not Helpful 12 Helpful This quote from Stephen R. Covey is a pretty good guideline to follow: A good listener must be able to recall information they heard, understand the broader context and not just details, be attentive to non-verbal cues, and be empathetic. Not Helpful 4 Helpful Sometimes writing something down can help.
I do this in class so I can still process my thoughts while giving others a chance to speak. Just jot a quick note to remind yourself what you wanted to say and keep listening. Not Helpful 7 Helpful I was at a church function with my sick wife. I struck up a conversation with someone, but I struggled to be a good listener because my mind was also on how my wife was doing and a passerby tried to initiate another conversation.
How should I handle a situation like this in the future? Try to maintain contact with your wife, maybe with an arm around her as you're paying attention to the speaker. If a passerby tries to initiate another conversation, just smile and hold up a finger as if to say "Just a minute," then resume paying attention to the speaker.
After the conversation, smile at your wife and ask, "You good? Explain what should I keep in mind while listening to a person? Answer this question Flag as How do I maintain eye contact if I am uncomfortable with someone?
How can I be a good listener if I am easily distracted? How can I make someone feel engaged with me while being with me without me being boring? Include your email address to get a message when this question is answered. Already answered Not a question Bad question Other. Tips People don't listen to understand, they hear to reply. Take that into consideration. Block out any and all distractions around you. This means turn off your cell phone, and refrain from looking out the window or fiddling with your pencil.
Imagine that there will be a pop quiz on the subject right after. This will help you home in and focus on key points and be attentive to details. The more difficult listening becomes, the more important it is to listen. Being a good listener is one of the most important skills if you want to advance your career and build meaningful relationships with people.
Never give out advice unless they ask you. People just want to be listened to, not be lectured at. Avoid parroting by repeating the sentences word for word. This can be quite annoying. When you look at the person you are listening to, look into their eyes.
Soften your eyes and avoid staring and looks of disbelief. Be comfortable with what is said, insofar as is possible. Keep in mind that sometimes we need to listen "between the lines", but there are times when we need to absorb things at face value and go with the flow of the teller's unfolding.
If you're thinking of what to say next while the other person is talking, you're not listening. You have short-circuited your ability to help. Avoid comments like, "Thousands of people have this problem so don't worry about it. Just observe people and listen to what they say and do. You will learn a lot just by listening. Postpone an important conversation if you are not in the mood to listen.
It is better to not talk if you are not ready. It is counterproductive to force through a conversation where you are too distracted by emotions, worries and external things that disturb the vibrations of the telling. You have to be receptive and listen to everything, not just the things you want to hear. Not all that you want to hear may be beneficial and not all that you do not want to may be harmful.
Sometimes, the most valuable advices are precisely those that you do not wish to hear. Most of the time people will tell you only the things you want to hear because they are afraid of offending you.
Nod to show them that you are particularly interested and want to hear more. Let them talk as much as they need before you start attacking them with questions. Before you start to say something, ask for their permission. Don't be rude, try your hardest to be as kind as possible. Always try to honestly care about what other people say, if you find the subject boring then at least be polite and pretend to care.
Talk to as many people as you can, listen to them carefully and learn from their experiences. If you don't understand something, don't be afraid to ask what it means.
You might not know but chances are you are going to be appreciated a lot for listening to what they have to say. It strengthens the bond of the relationship you both have. Try to clear your head and give the other party your full attention; you do this by trying to focus as if your life depended on it Don't just say "uh huh", "yes", or nod.
People will think that you are too distracted to care and not actually listening. When she was struggling to get out of bed each day due to the trickiness of her situation. When your friend is in a better place, you might deign to share how their experience mirrored yours, but not right now.
A reassuring hand squeeze. An offer of another catch up. A roam about the bookshop next to the cafe you were in, where you buy them a really fetching bookmark and remind them that you are there for them, no matter what.
A quick duck into a dumpling joint for 42 shared parcels of sauce-y, vinegary mystery. You might even seem slightly dismissive or breezy as you survey their life and offer your expert view of it. Have you a tried the Pomodoro technique? Not only does it make the person who is having a tough time feel anxious, it distances you from them.
Next time they think about talking to you, they will realise they are still eating sugar, not exercising and not undergoing therapy, thus they are not worthy of you advice due to their terrible dragging-of-feet. This is not usually true, but people going through hard times are very sensitive and on the lookout for signs and clues.
They might see your gap-filling suggestions as a secret way to NOT get too involved. Thinking of you today! As previously mentioned, the person might feel like their complex life is too much for other people, so following up after their reveal confirms that they are not too much for you and that they matter. Sometimes, the things we hear might tap into our own complex feelings about life, and make us feel unsettled, upset or depressed. We might not realise this is happening, but anxiety levels may sneakily begin to escalate, or depression may even begin to kick in.
And who even knows, your own excellent and newly-refreshed listening skills might catch on — as others are inspired by your switched-on, smart and sensitive responses to the people around you!
And checking in on your pal afterwards. And looking after you. Thank you for this useful advice — you really expressed well the difficulty of empathising with someone without making it all about yourself…and how hard it is to really attend to someone and be with them when times are hard.
Need to talk to someone? Verified Listeners. Long Term Support. Search Chat Now. Barbara Supporter 9 Listens to Teens to 7 cups I will listen to any relationship or marriage problems that you may have or any anxiety fears or worries looking forward to hearing from you Read more Chat Now. Berryhorse Beginner 8. @Harry, while a 'good listener' could be silent, it's more likely that they would be an active listener. Someone who does not keep 2-way communication open - at an absolute minimum, using non-verbal communication - would not be a 'good listener'. Someone who is really good at listening to other and helping with problems and giving advice, but can also show signs of loneliness and fake happiness. These people need to be listened to as well. These people need to be listened to as well.