If you’ve ever wondered what it takes to be liked by just about anyone, the trick lies in the art of listening. Not talking, mind you, but listening. A truly good listener is always popular because everyone wants to feel heard, and if you can provide a space for that, people will be magnetically attracted to you.
So how do we go about mastering this near-magical skill?
The very first and most important thing is to be fully present with the other person. That means not looking around the room for someone more interesting, or checking your latest messages on your phone, but actually giving them your full attention. Make comfortable eye contact and be sure your body faces towards the person you’re listening to. Nodding and minimal verbal responses like “Uh-huh””or “Ok” also work well.
Mirror back to them
When you repeat back part of what someone said, even in slightly different words, it tells them you’ve been paying attention. It also gives you a chance to check that you understood what you thought they were saying – and if you got it wrong, they can correct you. To do this, you can simply parrot a phrase or say something like “So you’re saying….?”.
Ask good questions
There are several different kinds of questions. A closed question gives the other person a chance to say only “yes” or “no”, which tends to limit the conversation. Open questions usually start with words like “How”, “Why”, “What”, “When”, “Who” or “Where”, and they invite people to tell you more about the subject.
Notice what isn’t being said
When we’re speaking to someone face-to-face (rather than over the phone, for example), 55% of what we understand from them comes from their body language, 38% from their tone and only 7% from their words. So if their body language and tone are saying something different to their words, guess which one you should pay attention to? If you notice there’s a conflict there, it’s worth probing a bit deeper to find out what’s really going on.
Becoming an exceptional listener is a life skill and it will take you far in both your personal and professional life. Start practicing now and notice how it totally changes all your relationships for the better.