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It’s Possible to Be a Good Listener: Ways to Develop Active Listening Skills

Communication is a basic human need. In other words, we must express ourselves in our business, friendship, romantic, and family relationships in every area of our lives. However, communication cannot be realized only by a person telling himself. To communicate, we need two essential skills. One is speaking skills, and the other is listening skills. If there is no physiological problem with hearing and speaking ability, all people can communicate in practice. If so, why do people with both speaking and hearing skills have communication problems?

In my previous articles, I mentioned that we need to solve our communication problems to establish better relationships with the people around us. The first step in solving these problems is the self-disclosure behavior that helps us develop speaking skills.

In this article, I will talk about listening skills,s the other pillar of healthy communication, and how we can improve our active listening skills.

Ways to improve listening skill

There are at least two people in interpersonal communication. One of these two people is in the role of the person who is speaking, that is, the person who conveys what they want to say, and the other person is the person who listens, that is, the person who receives the transmitted information and gives the appropriate reaction to this information. The listening skill expresses our value to the other person, our respect for his existence, and our care for him.

Our facial expressions, eye contact, hand-arm gestures, and nod while listening give clues about how seriously the other party is being taken and what they are listening to. For this reason, while listening, don’t look the other way while the other person is talking, ignore the phone, don’t shake your head as if you disapprove, don’t interrupt your words by being impatient, or say ‘Uh huh’, ‘Exactly.’ Behaviors such as giving short answers can make the speaker feel worthless.

As it is seen, even if we claim that we can do many things simultaneously, and even if we do, we need to focus only on communication if there is a goal of establishing healthy touch. For example, I stood up in high school to answer a question and started speaking. I stopped talking because my teacher was interested in his computer. When he asked what was going on, I said I wasn’t resting. My teacher agreed and turned off her laptop, and focused on listening to me carefully.

non-judgmental listening skills

In the communication process, while the other person is speaking, focusing as much as possible on what is being said and trying to understand what is being said without judgment is the first step of active listening. What we need to do is very simple, but it isn’t easy to implement: Listen before we judge, make final judgments, make inferences, or defend ourselves while the person is speaking.

Verbal or nonverbal response in communication

Listening skill is not limited to the act of listening. Understanding the other person and responding appropriately are also part of the listening skill. Whether our response is verbal or nonverbal, it is essential to provide an appropriate response to the subject. At this point, after listening to what the other person is saying, giving a reaction that we understand what he wants to say or expressing it correctly if we do not fully understand it will prevent us from disagreeing. It will increase our communication quality if our response is clear and concise, includes supportive and constructive comments, and is appropriate for the situation.

The reactions to be given according to the subject of communication will vary greatly. Therefore, it may be more helpful if I make a few suggestions about how not to react rather than how to respond.

Situations to avoid while listening:

  • Take care of something else
  • Using hostile gestures and facial expressions
  • Thinking about your answer while the other person is talking
  • Thinking about the past with a sentence that reminds us of the past while talking
  • interrupting the other person
  • judging the other person
  • Repetitively repeating your answer in your mind
  • Thinking in your mind that you are always right
  • Listening to some of what the other person is saying, not listening to others
  • Comparing ourselves with the other person

Situations to avoid while reacting:

  • Reacting irrelevant to what the other person is saying
  • ‘Something like this happened to me too.’ changing the subject without interpreting what the other person is saying
  • Reacting to quarrel with the person in front of us
  • Making commanding sentences to the other person
  • Making threatening sentences to the other person
  • Responding to the other person as if they were in a debate
  • Responding to the other person with accusatory, offending, embarrassing sentences
  • Giving sarcastic reactions to the subject told by the other person

Talking and listening make our lives easier as long as they are of good quality. As you read above, the solution to communication problems occurs with simple actions as long as you want an answer.