Most of us (more likely all of us) have at some point forgotten the importance of listening when trying to maintain a healthy and safe connection with a counterpart. But it’s just as important as being able to talk through your issues.
Active listening is.. exactly what it sounds like. It’s being intentional about hearing what someone else has to say. We all want to be heard, especially when we speak from a vulnerable place. So the next time a family member, friend, or colleague has something they want to say, try these steps to ensure you’re not only listening, but also helping them to feel heard.
Active Listening Tips
Start With Eye Contact
There’s no better way to show someone you’re listening than by giving them your full, undivided attention. Try not to get distracted by your surroundings, your phone, or anything else while they’re talking. When you’re intentional about limiting distractions and maintaining eye contact, you’ll have no trouble hearing them.
Use ‘Open’ Body Language
We communicate a lot verbally, but you’d be surprised how much we communicate with each other through non-verbal cues like body language. An open posture suggests to others that you’re feeling comfortable, emotionally open, and you’re not closing yourself off to their ideas. Try not to cross your arms and legs. And make sure to sit facing the other person. It might not sound like much, but it goes a long way.
When you’re in the thick of the conversation, try not to interrupt while the other person is expressing a thought. Worried you might forget what you wanted to say? Leave a mental bookmark and come back to it when appropriate. Interrupting someone in the middle of a conversation can be pretty offensive, and it won’t help your counterpart feel safe and heard.
Engaging through questions is a great way to meet someone where they’re at in a conversation. Instead of interjecting and pulling the conversation away from their last thought, asking a relevant question will help them feel heard and show that you’re fully engaged in the conversation.
Even though you’re confident you understand what the other person is trying to say, paraphrasing their words or summarizing their ideas serves as a trust signal that you are listening, and it will clarify for both parties that you’re on the same page.
Don’t Jump to Conclusions
Even if you think you know where a thought is heading, don’t jump the gun and make assumptions. Instead, leave it open. The rest will come naturally if you’re both sharing and listening. Anything else will do more harm than good.
At Oats Overnight, we come to work every day as we are. Not one of us is perfect, nor do we have all the answers to our problems. But by encouraging a culture of emotional thoughtfulness, we can ensure every person on our team feels valued. We nurture new ways of thinking that help us, and those around us, grow together.
These intangibles are often undervalued compared to the hard skills we bring to the table. But in practice, it’s emotional thoughtfulness that guides our growth, our innovation as a business, and the meaningful relationships that have formed within the company.
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