In my life, I’ve discovered that everyone can teach you something, if you just take the time to listen to them.
I think one of the biggest problems, however, is that we don’t take the time to listen. And many times when we think we’re listening, we aren’t really listening. Instead, we’re formulating a response to interject into the conversation as soon as we have a chance.
When you are intentional about becoming a good listener, you’ll gain so much wisdom from others. Plus, you’ll probably find that you develop deeper and more meaningful relationships.
Here are four ways to be a better listener:
1. Focus on the Other Person
This seems so basic, but you should focus your attention on the other person. I’ve found that people really love to talk about themselves. They have passions, interest, and things they want to share with whoever will listen intently to what they are saying.
If you want to have some interesting conversations, ask someone to tell you about themselves. It is a very simple question, but it can lead to a lot of great things.
I have found that when I meet someone, if I’m not sure what to say or ask, I’ll often say something like, “Tell me about yourself!”
This communicates: “I’m interested in you!” and it often opens up the door for all kinds of fascinating conversations.
Personally, I have learned about people’s past history, their triumphs, the hard things, their disappointments, and other interesting things. It all started by me saying, “Tell me about yourself”.
2. Put Away Your Phone
If you want to have really great conversations, learn about new perspectives, and go really deep with people, you have to put your phone away. This wasn’t even something we had to tell people to do in the past, but in our day and age, it is vital that we implement phone etiquette.
You cannot multitask the way you think you can.
Besides your inability to actually listen while looking at your phone, you send a signal to the other person that they are not important to you. When you put your device away, you tell them that you are interested in what they have to say.
This is something I do when I meet with someone; I put my phone on the table in case I need to check on what time it is or see if someone has texted me something that is very important. However, I keep my phone turned over so that I send the signal that I want to talk with that person and that person only.
I encourage you to put your phone away and focus solely on the other person. Give them your undivided attention. When you do this, it makes you a much better listener.
3. Ask Follow Up Questions
One of the biggest keys to listening intently and learning about other people, is to ask follow up questions. After I ask the question, “Tell me about yourself”, I listen so that I can ask them about more of their story.
When I hear an interesting tidbit or something that piques my interest, I’m going to ask questions that will give me more information about it.
I’m going to do everything I can to dig deeper with someone — if they are willing to open up and share. This is the key to meaningful conversations.
I want to know how someone is really doing or how they actually feel about something. Asking generic questions will only get you so far.
4. Reiterate Their Statements
For those that know me in real life, you know that I love to have interesting discussion and go deep. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that I have a very intense and analytical personality, but I also care very deeply about people.
One of the things I do often, is to reiterate what the other person said after they’ve said. This shows that not only did I listen to them, but that I actually understood (or an trying to understand) what they said. It also gives them a chance to correct me if I didn’t get something right.
By repeating back to them what they said, and then asking more questions, it helps me understand someone better and communicates to them how much I care about them — which only fosters deeper relationships and more meaningful conversations!