How often are you a good listener? I mean, a really good listener?
I recently read a newsletter by Dina Kaplan of The Path, and she hit on something I’ve recently caught myself doing. In truth, effective communication is all about being a good listener, which means letting others share their stories without interrupting or trying to make the conversation about ourselves. We can improve our conversational skills by being curious, asking questions, and showing compassion. The goal is to create an environment where everyone feels heard and valued not make it about “our story.”
We, erroneously, often believe we are being good listeners without considering the ways in which we could check in with ourselves and improve our skills. Instead, when someone shares with us, particularly when somewhat emotional, we often don’t follow up with probing questions and sometimes fail to demonstrate empathy. Our response instead is, frequently, to share our own story that is most similar to show how we understand and can relate to what they are dealing with. Sound familiar?
Instead of acting on the impulse to reframe their story through the lens of our own experience, try instead to better understand their experience. It is okay to relate through what we know, but attempt to quell that instinct, at least for a while. We can improve our conversational skills by being curious, asking questions, and showing empathy. The goal is to create an environment where everyone feels heard and valued.
How can you practice actively focusing on the other person you’re conversing with and genuinely listening to what they say? Consider the ways this small change in your interactions can change your relationships.