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Listening is one of the most important aspects of communication process. It is just as important as talking and helps us understand and read the other person’s message. Throughout the years, I have learned how to become a more effective listener. I adopted different techniques like maintaining eye contact, not interrupting people when they are talking, and picking up non-verbal cues. Becoming an effective listener is a lifelong process and can greatly improve your relationships with others.
One effective listening technique I engage in regularly is maintaining eye contact with the speaker. Whenever someone is talking to me, I look them in the eye to show that I am attentive and interested in their conversation. Maintaining eye contact also helps you pick up on non-verbal cues because you are focused on the speaker the whole time. Another effective listening technique I cultivate is not interrupting people when they are talking. According to Kevin Eikenberry, “interrupting reduces listening capability, impacts relationships negatively, shuts down communication, and much more”(Eikenberry 2014). Interrupting someone is a bad habit and whenever someone is talking to me, I save my concerns and comments until the person is done talking to me. Another effective listening technique I believe I engage in regularly is watching for non-verbal cues from the speaker. Maintaining eye contact has helped me to pick up non-verbal cues more easily. Looking for non-verbal cues has helped me understand when someone’s actions are contrasting what they are actually saying. Last week, for example, I was able to tell when my little cousin was lying by his use of body language. Practicing these techniques has helped me to become a more effective listener.
One weakness I have while listening is not always being mindful in the situation. Distractions such as my phone, my own thoughts or environmental factors sometimes cause me to not be fully focused on the conversation. Listening effectively requires you to focus on the situation and being distracted can hinder your ability to recall information. When someone is talking for example, I sometimes start to think about what I’m going to do next or when am I going to eat and this causes me to stop focusing on the conversation. Another weakness I sometimes have is selective listening. If I’m not fully interested in the conversation, I may only listen for parts of the conversation that interests me. For example, when my mom was lecturing me the other day, I only listened to some of the things she said because I was bored of the conversation. These weaknesses in my listening skills have caused me not to be an effective listener in some situations.
There are many ways that I can improve my listening skills. Since distractions can hinder my ability to be mindful in different situations, I can learn to not use my phone when speaking to someone, push away other thoughts that come to my head while listening or turn off background noise like TVs or music. I will know I have improved on this skill when I am completely mindful of the speaker and if I don’t get distracted while talking to someone. Another way I can improve my listening skill is to become fully engaged in the situation and stop listening for things that interest me. I will know I have improved on this skill when I am able to listen to any conversation without being bored and listening for things that I want to hear.
Throughout the years, I have learned how to become an effective listener. Since becoming an effective listener is a process, I have different parts of listening that I’m good at and different aspects that I need to work on. Becoming a more effective listener can improve my relationships and help me understand and respect other people’s values and beliefs.
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