Some argue that it is an innate ability and, precisely for this reason, they do not ask for anything how to learn to listen to others and they continue to behave as they like, to speak at full speed paying attention to the strongest stimulus moment by moment. Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on the point of view, it is possible to educate oneself to listen to others, and also to oneself, and it is a matter of path of growth that is not gratuitous and altruistic but very "selfish". This adjective is a provocation, of course, to emphasize the fact that by listening to those around us we receive a lot of information, ideas and ideas, and sometimes even affection and emotions.
By learning to listen you go to improve our relationships too, both at work and with family and friends. Listening is an action underestimated by many, it is often believed that it is enough to be silent and open your ears but it is much, much more! Let's find out together what true, active listening means, and how we can learn to practice it.
Active listening: what it means
The word active makes us immediately understand that we are called to do something and we are not stuffed figures who have to just nod. This kind of listening is very demanding, it is necessary not only to listen to the words but also to pay attention to the tone of voice and non-verbal language, to the emotions that transpire, not always in line with the words that are spoken. This is the challenge for the listener! Notice so many aspects of who is speaking and connect them, with a hint of personal sixth Sense which is refined day by day, experience by experience.
The first step to becoming empathic is active listening, when we learn to practice we will immediately notice the different relationship that we manage to establish with the people we hang out with and the different perception of those we have never seen before.
By integrating the verbal message, actually pronounced, with that not spoken orally but expressed in a thousand other ways, with tones, gestures, expressions and silences, you get to grasp what a person really wants to express. The practical side of this ability lies in being able to avoid many misunderstandings. Sometimes knowing how to go beyond words, it is necessary not to get angry at all or not to be deceived. Try to think about it! How many critical situations are avoidable with active listening? It is worth learning.
How to learn to listen to others
Maybe we are not very able to even listen to ourselves but we start to do it with others, and then treat ourselves like anyone else and give the deserved attention even to our controversial self. Here are some tips for becoming a great listener.
- It is forbidden to interrupt. It is inherent in the concept of listening, never interrupt the speaker while they are finishing a reasoning or explaining their opinion. We wait for our turn to speak and avoid expressing ourselves with sermons or advice from above, perhaps not even requested.
- Ask questions. Always waiting for our turn to speak, we do not respond with comments or considerations but with beautiful questions. They are an expression of interest, in general, and if we can do the right ones, the person we are listening to will understand that we have really perceived it in a total way.
- Indulge the conversation. When we are listening, the theme does not matter so much and there is no idea of going off topic, because the discourse evolves and we cannot predict how, but it is wrong to want to harness it. If you think about it, good solutions and close friendships often arise from fluid conversations.
- Never judge. It is essential that the listener does not judge, it is step number zero. If we are truly open to hearing what our person says and feels, our judgment is annulled because we are focused on her. We also pay close attention to what we say because sometimes even without wanting it, we can appear judgmental and therefore unwelcome and presumptuous.
- Be empathetic and assertive. Yes, because not judging does not mean giving reason to who we are listening to. The more balanced attitude involves a mix of empathy and assertiveness because even without judging it is necessary to keep a critical eye on what is happening. Otherwise we are passive listeners, and even useless.
- Focus on the interlocutor. At that moment only he exists, or almost. Certainly there is no need to look at cell phone notifications or look over his shoulder distracted by a passerby or a bird. Eyes but above all mind must be magnetized by the speaker.
- Make gestures of interest. How do we make the other person understand that we are listening if we do not speak? Non-verbal language helps us. Our eyes in his eyes, we nod, and if we are in confidence we can even touch him with one hand, as we feel to do, as long as the gesture appears natural.
- Respect the silences, which sometimes contain important messages. Let's not confuse them with the end of the speech, because they are parts of it and serve, both to us and to whoever is speaking. Let's try to understand the emotion that colors them.
- Accept the different points of view. Whether we like it or not, our possible advice and opinions are not necessarily followed. Even if we have been active listeners and have followed all the advice, it may be that there is no convergence, speaking, and that everyone remains in their own position. This is how life goes, it's not a defeat, let's not take it, after all we don't always follow what we are told even if we appreciate the contribution.