Top 10 Tools For Effective Listening

Listening to others is an excellent tool to have, whether you use it in personal relationships, friendships, or even in the business world. Many people don't know how to be an effective listener but luckily, it's very easy to become one - just by simply using a few tools!

This is mostly a business tip, but one of the most crucial things about listening to people is the ability to remember their names. Simply put, this can lead to some embarrassing situations, but also provides more significance to the information they're imparting with you. There are many exercises you can do to help yourself remember names, such as mnemonic ones - these work well if executed correctly.

Stop Talking
If you really want to become a better listener, stop yourself from speaking too much. When someone is speaking, they cannot listen - this goes for talking inside of your head too. This is often the biggest challenge for, well, almost everyone out there, but it pays off. Keep that inner monologue subdued - focus on what's in front of you.

Ask Questions
Always try to ask clear questions. Not only will the speaker feel that they are being listened to, it will aide in your comprehension. This can personalize otherwise uninteresting information and ensure that you remember it later.

Eye Contact
When someone is speaking to you, it is essential to maintain eye contact. Even if there's no ill intention, looking away or at the floor will not leave the speaker at ease. Instead, it'll turn them off. Eye contact exudes confidence - that's what you need if you're in an interview or meeting.

Being patient is crucial - everyone speaks at a different pace. Use perhaps slow moments as an opportunity to practice being patient and understanding. Put yourself in their shoes - what if you were a slow eater, would you want everyone to gobble down their food and leave the table when they're finished?

Turn off the television or any other distracting noises when you're having an important conversation with a loved one. Try and converse in a quiet room that will be conducive to exchange. This will also come in handy for when you're talking - you want to be able to feel at ease sharing too.

Be Open
It's very easy to assume that if you disagree with someone, all hell will break loose. This is usually not the case. In fact, loved ones will likely appreciate your honesty and colleagues will likely be impressed, assuming you can communicate your opinion(s) clearly and effectively. Clamming up only leads to distractions in your head and miscommunication down the road - so open up!

Don't Interrupt
A devoted listener should never interrupt someone else when they're speaking. Even if the person speaking is attacking you -wait for them to finish, then formulate a well thought out response. Take your time. Better to not speak at all than to misspeak. If its not a hot conversation, then interrupting will make YOU the rude one!

It's vital to make yourself as comfortable as possible. Try not to have important conversations standing up, for example. This ensures the listener(s) won't get distracted, and also helps to avoid awkward situations where both the speaker and listener lose focus of their goals in the conversation (saving time).

Anytime someone is speaking, they are trying to convey a moment of their life. If possible, it is best to relate to the speaker. This doesn't mean you should make the conversation about yourself, but relate with your body language and oral language both. Sometimes a simple "I know what you mean" can do wonders for a conversation.

Michelle Rodriguez writes about communication and relationships. Her recent work is about earning an online family counseling degree.
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