Don't wait for your turn to speak
What is active listening? Well, I'll tell you! It's a communication technique that requires the listener to truly give their attention to the speaker and understand what the speaker is saying.
Active listeners don't wait for their turn to speak. Often times we (myself included) make judgements or assumptions during a conversation, which turns off the ability to be an active listener. And once we do that, we're just waiting for our chance to voice our opinions.
Active listening is important in every day life and especially important when it comes to our personal lives, relationships, interviews, and in our careers.
The Four Rules of Active Listening
I found a great resource on improving our active listening skills from The U.S. Department of State. They've looked closely at active listening and explored four rules to take into consideration:
1. Seek to understand before you seek to be understood
Often, when we enter into conversation, our goal is to be better understood. We can be better understood, if first we better understand.
2. Be non judgmental
Empathetic listening demonstrates a high degree of emotional intelligence. There is a reason kids do not usually speak with adults about drugs, sex, and rock and roll. Kids already know what the adults have to say.
3. Give your undivided attention to the speaker
When we truly give our undivided attention, eye contact becomes less important. In most listening situations people use eye contact to affirm listening. However a stare down can get aggressive, so ease up on the eye contact. Try walking and talking -- it's a good way to show you're paying attention while not having to maintain eye contact throughout the conversation.
4. Use silence effectively
To often a truly revealing moment is never brought to light because of an untimely interruption. Even providing positive feedback using body language, eye contact, and non word sounds like "umh, huh" can interrupt the speaker.
To read more about The U.S. Department of State and active listening, click here.
Hope this helps improve those listening skills!