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Three Techniques To Improve Listening Skills: Listen to Connect

There is a time and a place to share your opinions. You have developed your perspectives from the many experiences you have gathered throughout your life. The lessons you have learned allow you to be of service to others who may benefit from your knowledge. In order to impart this information effectively, you must first be able to listen.

“The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them.”

~ Ralph Nichols

I am willing to bet you have never gotten into trouble for listening too much! In fact, your ability to be consciously attentive is what enables you to connect with those you love on a much deeper level. When you take the time to truly listen to whoever is speaking to you, the necessary response (if any) becomes clearer. Clarity is created for both of you when you are present for someone who needs to talk.

Connections are more easily made by effective listening

Techniques to improve listening:

  • Make eye contact, or if you are on the phone, turn off the TV, computer and take time out during your conversation to give your full attention.
  • Don’t try to “read between the lines.” If you aren’t sure about something, ask for clarity. Curiosity can create clarity for both of you.
  • Let go of any judgment you may have about the conversation. See it as an opportunity to connect with another person, instead of a debate.

Listening is a skill to practice. It can be difficult at first, so go easy on yourself. Just keep practicing because if close connections are a priority for you, it is definitely something worth doing well.

Photo by: bisgovuk via: Flickr

Learn, Live, Love

Recently I have been in a position to learn a ton of new skills. I have expanded what I do professionally into areas that are relatively unfamiliar to me. What is exciting about these new ventures is the reminder that as human beings we never stop learning. Many people, myself included, fall into patterns in which we feel we have mastered a skill and reach certain plateaus. When this happens we can tend to draw security from the fact that we have “made it.” While I do believe that it is important to develop certain skills in order to provide for oneself and make a positive contribution to society, I also believe that people should not limit themselves.

Learning is exciting. It is an ongoing process that we can either choose to participate in or resist. Certain ideals I felt very strong about 10 years ago have changed. Some have been galvanized. When I reflect on my life, that has always been the case. This is because my experiences, my knowledge, and my perspectives are always evolving. 

The key in the learning process for me is having an open mind. When I have an open mind I am willing to listen to ideas that are different from mine. I am able to see other people’s points of view without becoming immediately defensive. I don’t feel the need to attack those whom I don’t understand. My mind is closed when I live in fear. Fear breeds anger, resentment, and self-righteousness. These negative emotions, which we all experience at times, keep us living in a place that is wrought with self-pity. No one deserves to be this limited and alone.

One of the most self-loving actions I can take today is to stop and listen. When I stop and listen I become aware of those around me. When I am aware, I learn. When I learn, my entire life experience is enhanced. A suggestion I can make that really works for me today is to pay close attention to what you think and talk about. Are your thoughts and words angry? Are they self righteous? Do you find yourself having to angrily prove your point? Do you seek ways that you can be of service to people? All of these questions are important because they will provide a great deal of insight into how you see yourself and others. As you are able to see yourself and others in a more positive light, you will be able to open your mind and learn. Enjoy this experience!