"We have two ears and one mouth for a reason."
Improper listening is one of the most overlooked reasons why people struggle to make meaningful connections and, consequently, suffer from social anxiety.
How often have you had a conversation with someone where you felt like they were just waiting for you to stop talking so that they could respond? What about a time where you expressed yourself to someone, only to have them say something that proved they really weren't listening closely to what you said?
We can all remember times where we have felt hurt or offended by someone not listening to us.
That's because when we don't hear each other, we don't understand each other.
If you are desiring more meaningful connections, try these tips to improve your active listening:
- Summarize what the other person is saying.
- Ask questions to dig deeper.
- Make connections to past things they've said to you.
Occasionally Summarize What the Other Person is Saying
Show that you are listening and so that you make sure you are understanding.
An Opportunity to Discover More
When the person finishes sharing something, instead of launching into a story you've been waiting to tell, ask them a question about what they just shared.
Let the focus stay on them for longer than you normally would, instead of jumping at the opportunity to talk about yourself again.
Make a Connection
Bring up something you remember that person saying in a previous conversation: a food they like, a memory they shared with you, or an opinion they hold. Example: "I remember you saying you love Starbucks, do you want to go there for coffee today?"
Listen to what the person is saying, and really listen. Don't zone out, don't think about yourself, listen to what they are sharing with you and be honored that they chose you to share it with.
It's about showing the other person that you are talking to them because you want to talk to them specifically, not just because you want to hear yourself talk.
If you do these four things during your next conversation, I would be very surprised if you don't see an immediate positive reaction from the person you are listening to.
Making a habit out of practicing the tips above is a great way to improve your mindful listening over time, and I guarantee that you will find your friends, family, and coworkers notice and appreciate this extra effort.
People want to feel heard. If you make an effort to make them feel heard, you will undoubtedly deepen your connections.