Let’s talk about listening. Easy enough, right?
Listening is one of the most important skills you can acquire and develop. It is the foundation of effective communication, and is essential for building strong, healthy relationships in all segments of your life.
Listening is not just about hearing what someone else is saying; it is about understanding their perspective, their feelings, and their needs.
Another word for this is active listening; by utilizing this skill, you show respect and empathy for the other person, and create a safe space for them to share their thoughts, feelings, opinions, and ideas.
Active listening has several components, the first of which is simply paying attention. While easy in theory, giving someone your full attention can take practice. It means putting aside distractions like your phone, your own thoughts, and the environment around you.
Your undivided attention shows that you value what the other person has to say, and that you are interested in hearing their perspective.
The second component of active listening is showing empathy. This trait is also key to developing emotional intelligence - when you show empathy, you’re putting yourself in the other person’s shoes, and trying to see things from their point of view.
Empathy requires acknowledging their feelings, and showing that you truly care about their well-being. Your empathy can be communicated to the other person through both verbal and nonverbal cues such as nodding, saying "I understand," or asking clarifying questions.
Active listening also requires responding appropriately. It is important to be intentional about the way you communicate back to another person in order to show that you have heard and understood what they are saying.
A few strategies for continuing the conversation include paraphrasing what the other person has said, asking follow-up questions, or sharing your own thoughts and feelings on the subject.
As with any interaction, make sure to respond in a way that is respectful and non-judgmental, and that shows you are open to hearing different perspectives.
The bottom line is, communication is essential to building strong, healthy relationships. By communicating effectively, you are able to connect with others on a deeper level, as well as build trust and mutual respect.
Effective communication involves not only listening actively, but also speaking clearly and honestly. It involves being open and transparent about your thoughts and feelings, and being willing to listen to the thoughts and feelings of others!