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Have you been asked this question? Do you know if you are a good listener? Some, like Websters, defines a conversation as a talk, especially an informal one, between two or more people, in which news and ideas are exchanged. The key in this definition is between two or more. When we dominate or interrupt conversation, we are choosing to place our thoughts above the one we are having a conversation with.  Maybe you are thinking but what if I know a better solution or maybe what they are saying isn’t right? When we listen to what others say, meaning we listen to understand what they are saying, we are showing them that we respect them. Being able to communicate and listen is the basis for healthy relationships. That’s what we are talking about today. Ready to learn something new?

Why is Listening so Important?

Choosing to be a good listener to another person is one of the first communication pathways we experience together. Conversation is the method we use to share our feelings, express emotions, build deep relationships and often the way we support one another. It is how we get to know each other. It is fundamental and necessary for all relationships. When you choose not to listen, you are choosing not respect and know the one you are having a conversation with. Are you a good listener? Below are a few benefits from being a good listener.

  • Increases learning
  • Helps mental health in you and them
  • Enables you to understand what someone is truly feeling
  • Decreases confusion and misunderstanding
  • Builds trust
  • Strengthens relationships

What if I Don’t Listen?

Do you find multiple relationships with conflict, confusion and misunderstandings at the center? One or both of you could be a poor listener. Being a poor listener enables assumptions and misunderstandings. If we are forming what we want to say while someone is actively speaking, how can truly hear all of what they have to say? Not listening to what someone has to say in the work place can lead to errors, ineffective work habits or even termination. Poor listening in personal relationships can cause hurts feelings and breaks down trust. When we over speak and not listen to someone we are talking to, we are saying “I don’t respect you.”. Overtime, the relationship suffers and weakens or even ends. Does anyone come to mind when you read over this? Do you want to strengthen your listening skills, be a good listener?

How Can I Be a Better Listener?

Thankfully there are steps we can all take to become better listeners. In doing so we can also improve our communication, develop empathy for others and grow to want to understand the person we are talking with. All of these are crucial for healthy relationships as it strengthens them, shows we care, displays attentiveness and respect. Listening involves empathy – the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. Ready to learn more about being an effective listener? Below are some steps that could help when examining and improving your listening skills.

  • Keep eye contact and do not look at phone or email etc.
  • Decide to listen – put your thoughts aside for person talking
  • Actively listen – to learn and hear what someone is saying
  • Do not interrupt or over speak while they are speaking
  • Ask open ended questions about what they are saying to understand
  • Refrain from thinking ahead about what you are going to say next
  • Process your response before you say it

Along with the steps we can take to be better listeners is our body language. Frequently looking away, crossing our arms over our chest, sighing or being distracted are all examples of how our body language can send the message that we are not interested in what someone is saying. Body language can help make someone feel you are engaged in what they are saying but can also say you are not listening. It is all a matter of being intentional when you stop to engage in conversation with someone. Do you find it hard to listen? Really listen? There is help.

Who Can Help?

Communication is key to relationships and taking steps to improve your relationships is the key to a more balanced and healthy life with the ones the love. If todays blog hit home with you and you find it difficult to listen effectively, you are not alone. Many find that communication is hard to establish and maintain in their relationships. Upstate Restorative Counseling is here for you. We have a team of therapists who can help you establish steps to improve your relationships.