You can read all the books and ace every exam, however, without good communication skills, your knowledge won’t get you very far. Being a good listener is one of those life skills that’s often overlooked or considered unimportant. But think about it – how does it feel having a conversation with someone who is a bad listener? Not great! Being able to communicate well and have meaningful social interactions is vital, whether it’s at work, or with your friends and family.
What is a bad listener?
We engage in conversation because we want our thoughts heard and recognised. Sometimes, we don’t listen simply to listen; we listen to respond with our own opinion. So instead of listening to the other person’s words, we start formulating our responses in our heads. This means that a lot of the time we aren’t paying much attention to what someone else is saying, which is kind of selfish and rude.
We do this because we want to be good at conversation and because sharing our knowledge and ideas makes us feel good. The irony is that not listening properly actually makes us poor communicators!
If you find that you do this, it doesn’t make you a bad person. But it does make you a bad listener.
It’s off-putting to talk to someone who is a bad listener because you get the feeling that they aren’t all that interested in what you have to say. It can be very confusing and distracting to have a meaningful conversation with a bad listener!
Good communication is a social skill that begins with learning to be a better listener – and this simple technique can help you become one!
Take a deep breath, and be a better listener
That’s it. It’s that simple. When you are talking with someone, instead of jumping in with a response when they have finished speaking, pause and take a breath. Then speak.
Why does pausing make you a better listener?
Pausing before talking forces you to be more thoughtful in conversation. Instead of launching into your views on a subject, you have a couple of seconds to gather your thoughts and truly respond to what has been said rather than just reacting.
When you pause, you make the other person feel less hurried and rushed and give them the impression that you understand and appreciate their input. This is an important leadership skill that makes for good workplace communication. It’s also vital for healthy friendships and family relationships.
Pausing to breathe before you speak also means you’ll interrupt conversations less – leading to more engaging interactions with less frustration and lost trains of thought.
So next time you’re in a conversation and find your brain running wild trying to think of a response before the other person has even finished speaking… remember to pause. Take a breath before speaking. Soon you’ll be enjoying more meaningful conversations, and your friends will notice that you’ve become a better listener!