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Last Updated on August 15, 2018

The Skill That Most People Don’t Have: Active Listening

The Skill That Most People Don’t Have: Active Listening

Active listening is an active process, it is not just simply giving attention to the speakers, but also to show the verbal and non-verbal signs at the same time to let people know you are really digesting what they are saying.

Video Summary

Most people are not really listening

The average person talks at about 225 words per minute, but we can listen at up to 500 words per minute.[1] So our minds are filling in those other 275 words. This shows that we easily succumb to distraction and that efforts are necessary when we want to actively listen to the speakers.

Another reason is hinted by our egocentric self. We love being the spotlight and the centre of conversation, and talking can help us to achieve that! That’s why we tend to listen more than we speak.

How active listening skills make you look much smarter

When you’re actively listening, you’ll make constant feedback. This would make your colleagues and boss think that you’re smart enough to give immediate response and contributing a lot.

How active listening skills make you a charismatic person

“The irony of being a good conversationalist is that talking isn’t the most important piece; listening is what makes you memorable.”

The essence of being a good communicator is your role played in LISTENING, not talking. Imagine that when you come to a friend and talk about a issue that troubles he/she recently, what you are seeking for is a pair of empathetic ears, and an embracing heart. You are not really trying to ask for another person to solve the problem, you just want the other to listen and UNDERSTAND. So, when you actively listen to him/her, you can better understand the person’s situation by detecting his/her emotional changes, the way he/she speaks, and so you can make thoughtful comments to him/her.

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Here’re some useful ways to become an more active listener!

Active listening skills: verbal signs

Paraphrase and make a brief summary

After listening, you can make a short response by briefly summarising the content. When you paraphrase, it can also help your understand what the conversation really means by having you to present the same thing in a different way. Meanwhile, your speaker can also get a chance to clarify when he/she finds something is mis-understood.

Ask questions to show your interest or to clarify

By raising questions, your speaker will think that they are being given attention to and that you are really listening to them. You can show your interest in that topics by asking for more details.

For example, when your boss comes to you in the morning and assign you with a bunch of tasks, and say that every task is highly important and deadline are all hitting very soon. But throughout his conversation, you can notice some particular tasks that he places an emphasis on. So, when your boss have done his talking, you can ask “So it looks like that A and B takes more time and are the focus of the company’s current strategies. So, should I first work on these two projects first?”. And then your boss will be amazed that you really”get” him and know his point, so he will think that YOU are a worker that really understand him and think you two share similar thoughts, so he will like you more and develop a closer relationship!

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Active listening skills: non verbal signs

Make appropriate eye contact

Having eye contact with your speaker is natural and encouraging to the speaker. It shows that you are really listening and trying to understand the content.

But pay attention to your way of looking at others, make sure it is gentle, not too firm and intimidating. Also, be aware of the duration of each eye contact because shy speakers may find themselves feeling embarrassed.

Keep your posture open and welcoming

An open and welcoming gesture can really help the speaker to communicate better. For example, by leaning forward, resting your head on one your hand can show that you are actively listening and welcome the speaker the speak more!

Nod and smile

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Nodding and smiling while you listen are also very positive and affirming signs to the speaker. You show that you are agreeing with what he/she said and everyone LOVES being agreed on. Also, you show that you like the content as well, not hating it!

For example, when your colleague has her presentation on her approach to the problem displayed. When you nod and smile when you find yourself agreeing with her point, that can be really affirming signs to her, and she LOVES it. That assuring actions instantly reduce her fear and feel more confident to continue her point. Your active listening is especially more empowering when most people in the meeting are looking bored and crossing their arms!

One little trick: mimic the body language of the speaker

A little trick of doing the non-verbal communication is that you can simply MIMICK the body language of your speaker! This trick is especially helpful when your speaker talk about an emotional incident. This will make them feel that you really empathize with them.

Want to learn more about active listening skills and be an effective communicator?

3 books we highly recommend:

The Lost Art of Listening, by Michael P. Nichols PhD

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This practical books shares some insights on how to become a better listener, as well as to communicate your idea more effectively. Michael vividly guides you by giving examples of real life situation, easy- to-grasp techniques and practical exercise that you can work on at home.

Just Listen: Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone, by Mark Goulston M.D.

This book particularly suits those who work in the business field. This former business coach shares insights on the art of persuading people, and the key role of listening played in that. It emphasises on how effective listening helps you show show your empathy, and so bridges the gap and break the walls between you and your resistant-looking clients.

Power Questions: Build Relationships, Win New Business, and Influence Others, by Andrew Sobel

This absorbing book has its focus on the skills of asking questions. It highlights the powerful impact of an inquisitive and provoking question by sharing the real conversations made by 35 CEO, billionaires and friends. It also thoughtfully provides more than 200 questions that readers can apply when facing challenges at work.

Reference

More by this author

Lilian Tang

Traveller, food lover (especailly sushi!)

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Last Updated on August 15, 2018

18 Signs You’ve Found Your Soulmate

18 Signs You’ve Found Your Soulmate

Spiritually speaking, it is said that even before you were born, the name of your spiritual half has been determined. Each soul has a perfect match… your soulmate.

Although most people think of a soulmate as a perfect harmonious union of bliss, your true spiritual soulmate is the person who is intended to help you “complete yourself.”

Video Summary

Jerry McGuirewas right – soul mates complete each other. A person is unable to complete his mission in life alone. Everyone needs someone to help them become a better person. This is not always a blissful experience.

Being in an honest, sincere, and committed soulmate relationship helps you to become a better version of yourself. You have to push yourself beyond your comfort zone, beyond your limits to find your better self.

Even though we tend to think of soul mates as a symbiotic union; soulmate relationships can be rough at the beginning. They can be like two jagged edged puzzle pieces trying to click into place. Sometimes it looks like you do not fit together at all, but soon after a little bit of twisting, turning, and flipping the pieces around, you feel the moment of the perfect click. It’s a feeling deep in your soul, that says, this is the right one.

Often soulmates appear in disguise. You might not be physically attracted to each other when you first meet, but there is a mysterious force pushing you forward that tells you this is “the right one” for you.

You have a personal checklist of everything you want in a partner. Tall- check. Dark hair (no curls please)-check. Blondes only-check. 6 pack abs- check. Or you can be likeJerry Seinfeldwho knows his date is not “the one” becauseshe eats her peas one at a time.

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So, if you are brave enough to move away from your romance checklist, open your eyes and your heart to unexpected possiblities, you might just be one of the lucky ones who finds their true soul match.

You know you’ve found your soulmate when:

1. You just know it.

Something deep inside tells you this is the perfect one for you. It’s as if there is a spiritual force pushing you to let go of everything you previously expected and to give of yourself completely.

2. You have crossed paths before.

Soulmates have met each other and a previous time. You may not have connected, but you were in the same place, at the same time. Before my husband and I met, we lived across the street from each other and worked across the street from each other. Yet we never met until the time was right.

3. Your souls meet at the right time.

    Each person has to be ready to receive the soul connection. Even though my husband and I were in close proximity of each other for many years, we did not meet until the time was right for both of us. You have to be prepared to meet your soulmate. It could be that you have to go through a relationship that doesn’t work out, or that you’re not ready to ditch your “perfect person checklist,” but when it comes to soulmates- timing is everything.

    4. Your quiet space is a peaceful place.

    Being quiet together is comforting like a fluffy down blanket on a cold winter night. Whether you are reading in the same room, or driving in the car, there’s a quiet peace between you.

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    5. You can hear the other person’s silent thoughts.

    With soulmates, there is such depth to your relationship that you can feel and hear what your partner is thinking, even if it is not verbally expressed.

    6. You feel each other’s pain.

      You stand in each other’s shoes. You know each other so well, that the second he walks in the door, you can tell how his day was. You feel each other’s feelings: sadness, worry, and stress. And you share each other’s happiness and joy.

      7. You know each other’s flaws and the benefits in them.

      Yes, it’s true. Our flaws have benefits. Every trait has a positive as well as a negative side. It’s the task of each person to always look for the good, even when things don’t look so good. There is usually a benefit to each flaw. Stubborn people are good decision makers. Overly organized people are great at paying bills on time.

      8. You share the same life goals.

      You’re both on the same page with values, ethics, and goals. You may have a different way of reaching those goals, but you both want the same end result.

      9. You’re not afraid of having a conversation.

        Conversations can be challenging. Expressing concerns or attempting to make decisions is uncomfortable. Soulmates know that if they join together, they will be able to work it out.

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        10. You are not threatened by the need for alone time.

        Whether it’s tennis three times a week or girls’ night out, you respect each other’s need for independence, knowing that when you get together, your time alone is special.

        11. You don’t experience jealousy.

        Pretty girls at the office or handsome personal trainers aren’t a threat to your relationship.You are secure knowing that you are the only one.

        12. You respect each other’s differences and opinions.

          You know you have different opinions. Often soulmates are polar opposite. At times this is challenging. These are the times when you are being forced to let the other person complete you. You still have your own opinion, but instead of agreeing to disagree, there is a deep level of respect for each other. You listen and honor the differences.

          13. You don’t scream, curse, or threaten each other with divorce.

          Of course you feel the anger. People unintentionally hurt each other. But soulmates aren’t nasty, hurtful, or punitive.

          14. You give in because you want to make your partner happy.

          Giving can often occur in unhealthy, co-dependent, or abusive relationships. But soulmates give to each other for the sole purpose of making each other happy.

          15. You know how to apologize.

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            It’s not easy to say “I’m sorry” or admit that you did something that hurt the person you love. Soulmates realize that their actions or words cause harm. Even if they feel justified in their point of view, if their partner was hurt by it, they can easily apologize for the harm they have caused.

            16. You would marry each other again.

            You know this is the one and only one for you. Even through the tough times, you would choose your partner again. You feel a sense of pride in your partner.

            17. You complete each other.

            Yes, I’m sorry to say it but, your partner fills in your blanks. No person is perfect. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. Soulmates complete each other. It’s the yin and yang of perfect harmony. One person may be the extrovert, while one is the introvert. One may be social, while the other a homebody. Soulmates are often opposite that are attracted to a person who has their missing pieces.

            18.Being in each other’s arms washes away all your stress, worries, and anxiety.

              There is no place you’d rather be at the end of the day but in each other’s arms. If you had a rough day filled with disagreements, a fight with your boss or if you missed the train, whatever happened is gone the second you cuddle up together. There is a warmth in your heart, an inner peace you can feel. No words need to be spoken. All that exists is the silent, blissful union of two souls together. Two souls that were meant to be together eternally.

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