Advertising
Advertising

Shut Up And Listen To This Carefully

Shut Up And Listen To This Carefully

Think about the last time you confided in a friend. Did they understand your thoughts and gave you comfort just by simply listening to your worries and being there for you? Listening looks easy, yet hard to master. Because speaking is often more desirable than listening, and our goal is usually to persuade the other to understand and resonate with our thoughts (even doing it unintentionally).

Speaking is often more desirable than listening, and our goal is usually to persuade the other to understand, and resonate with our thoughts (sometimes even unintentionally). Even though speaking well is often praised and recognised by the public, listening is, in fact, a very important element in good communication. It creates better responses and clarifies conversations. Also, if there are no listeners, there won’t be any speakers.

We compiled 5 books to help you to be a better listener, be it comforting a friend, going to a lecture, or understanding a new concept, these books will help you to minimise information loss from communication.

The Good Listener by James E. Sullivan

    This little book is written by a priest who has to deal with hurt people every day, pointing out how our poor listening hurts others (often unintentionally), and how much we can heal a person just by listening and understanding their feelings.

    Advertising

    The book gives suggestions on how we can improve our listening and how we can share so the other will understand us better. Even so, do not expect this to be a tool book as you will not become a great listener just by following 5 steps, instead, it is about being aware and learning to walk away from our selfish desire to be listened to. This book is recommended if you are someone working in the field of counselling, or anyone who wants to build a deeper and stronger relationship with others.

    Reading Duration: 1hr 59mins

    Get The Good Listener from Amazon at $10.95

    Power Listening: Mastering the Most Critical Business Skill of All by Bernard T. Ferrari

      Ferrari reveals how to turn a tin ear into a platinum ear in this book because poor listening can lead to poor business decisions in organisations. The author suggests that the skills and habits of a good listener can be learned and taught, in this book he offers a step-by-step guide to turn readers into an active listener.

      Advertising

      In the book Power Listening, the author focuses on corporate listening instead of peer-to-peer and interpersonal listening. This book is great for anyone who facilitates or leads groups through decision and design. By identifying the cause of bad corporate listening, readers are able to follow the guide to effective listening.

      Reading Duration: 4hrs 17mins

      Get Power Listening: Mastering the Most Critical Business Skill of All from Amazon at $32.99

      The Lost Art Of Listening by Michael P Nichols 

        What is it that keeps so many of us from really listening? Nichols answers the question in the book and frames listening as an active art, something we need practices to transform passive reception to real hearing. The book is filled with vivid examples that demonstrate easy-to-learn techniques for becoming a better listener. The book is embedded with empathic listening, a listening technique enabling us to break through misunderstandings and conflict in our relationships. “Listening isn’t a need we have; it’s a gift we give.”

        Advertising

        Reading Duration: 6hrs 29mins

        Get The Lost Art Of Listening from Amazon at $7.99

        Just Listen: Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone by Mark Goulston

          The first make-or-break step in persuading anyone to do anything is getting them to hear you out. This book is about listening and giving responses, it emphasises that everyone wants to feel “felt”, and only little appropriate responses can achieve this. Just Listen is a practical how-to guide to becoming a better face-to-face communicator. It reveals how to make a powerful and positive first impression, talk an angry or aggressive person away from an unproductive reaction, and more. If you deal with difficult people around you, this is a must-read for you to not only understand them but also have them felt understood.

          Reading Duration: 5hrs 17mins

          Advertising

          Get Just Listen: Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone from Amazon at $14.19

          Verbal Judo: The Gentle Art of Persuasion by George J. Thompson 

            Verbal Judo is a martial art that can show you how to be better prepared for every verbal encounter, including listening and speaking more effectively and engaging people with empathy. The book is written in a conversational style, with real-world examples and tips for controlling your own emotions when you feel verbally attacked.

            “The other person will believe you’re trying to understand. Whether you really are interested is irrelevant.” Someone might disagree with this, yet it is powerful in the listener’s mind because we all know at certain times, all we need is an ear from a friend instead of theories and advice.

            Reading Duration: 4hrs 37mins

            Get Verbal Judo: The Gentle Art of Persuasion from Amazon at $9.48

            More by this author

            Lifehack Reads

            Lifehack Reads is the curated collection of our favorite books, carefully categorized and sorted by our Editorial Team.

            10 Books On Health That Increase Your Eating And Body Awareness 10 Books That Will Change Your Life Forever 5 Books You Must Read if You Want to Be a Millionaire in Your 20’s 27 Must Read Books Every Novel Lover Should Read at Least Once 1 Minute Book Summary: 59 Seconds

            Trending in Social Animal

            1 How to Use the Law of Reciprocity for Effective Persuasion 2 What Will Happen When You Surround Yourself With Positive People? 3 How to Surround Yourself With Positive People 4 How to Create Social Goals to Make an Impact in the World 5 The Lifehack Show: Improving Social Skills with Dr. Daniel Wendler

            Read Next

            Advertising
            Advertising
            Advertising

            Last Updated on October 22, 2020

            8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

            8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

            How would you feel if you were sharing a personal story and noticed that the person to whom you were speaking wasn’t really listening? You probably wouldn’t be too thrilled.

            Unfortunately, that is the case for many people. Most individuals are not good listeners. They are good pretenders. The thing is, true listening requires work—more work than people are willing to invest. Quality conversation is about “give and take.” Most people, however, want to just give—their words, that is. Being on the receiving end as the listener may seem boring, but it’s essential.

            When you are attending to someone and paying attention to what they’re saying, it’s a sign of caring and respect. The hitch is that attending requires an act of will, which sometimes goes against what our minds naturally do—roaming around aimlessly and thinking about whatnot, instead of listening—the greatest act of thoughtfulness.

            Without active listening, people often feel unheard and unacknowledged. That’s why it’s important for everyone to learn how to be a better listener.

            What Makes People Poor Listeners?

            Good listening skills can be learned, but first, let’s take a look at some of the things that you might be doing that makes you a poor listener.

            1. You Want to Talk to Yourself

            Well, who doesn’t? We all have something to say, right? But when you are looking at someone pretending to be listening while, all along, they’re mentally planning all the amazing things they’re going to say, it is a disservice to the speaker.

            Yes, maybe what the other person is saying is not the most exciting thing in the world. Still, they deserve to be heard. You always have the ability to steer the conversation in another direction by asking questions.

            It’s okay to want to talk. It’s normal, even. Keep in mind, however, that when your turn does come around, you’ll want someone to listen to you.

            2. You Disagree With What Is Being Said

            This is another thing that makes you an inadequate listener—hearing something with which you disagree with and immediately tuning out. Then, you lie in wait so you can tell the speaker how wrong they are. You’re eager to make your point and prove the speaker wrong. You think that once you speak your “truth,” others will know how mistaken the speaker is, thank you for setting them straight, and encourage you to elaborate on what you have to say. Dream on.

            Disagreeing with your speaker, however frustrating that might be, is no reason to tune them out and ready yourself to spew your staggering rebuttal. By listening, you might actually glean an interesting nugget of information that you were previously unaware of.

            3. You Are Doing Five Other Things While You’re “Listening”

            It is impossible to listen to someone while you’re texting, reading, playing Sudoku, etc. But people do it all the time—I know I have.

            Advertising

            I’ve actually tried to balance my checkbook while pretending to listen to the person on the other line. It didn’t work. I had to keep asking, “what did you say?” I can only admit this now because I rarely do it anymore. With work, I’ve succeeded in becoming a better listener. It takes a great deal of concentration, but it’s certainly worth it.

            If you’re truly going to listen, then you must: listen! M. Scott Peck, M.D., in his book The Road Less Travel, says, “you cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.” If you are too busy to actually listen, let the speaker know, and arrange for another time to talk. It’s simple as that!

            4. You Appoint Yourself as Judge

            While you’re “listening,” you decide that the speaker doesn’t know what they’re talking about. As the “expert,” you know more. So, what’s the point of even listening?

            To you, the only sound you hear once you decide they’re wrong is, “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah!” But before you bang that gavel, just know you may not have all the necessary information. To do that, you’d have to really listen, wouldn’t you? Also, make sure you don’t judge someone by their accent, the way they sound, or the structure of their sentences.

            My dad is nearly 91. His English is sometimes a little broken and hard to understand. People wrongly assume that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about—they’re quite mistaken. My dad is a highly intelligent man who has English as his second language. He knows what he’s saying and understands the language perfectly.

            Keep that in mind when listening to a foreigner, or someone who perhaps has a difficult time putting their thoughts into words.

            Now, you know some of the things that make for an inferior listener. If none of the items above resonate with you, great! You’re a better listener than most.

            How To Be a Better Listener

            For conversation’s sake, though, let’s just say that maybe you need some work in the listening department, and after reading this article, you make the decision to improve. What, then, are some of the things you need to do to make that happen? How can you be a better listener?

            1. Pay Attention

            A good listener is attentive. They’re not looking at their watch, phone, or thinking about their dinner plans. They’re focused and paying attention to what the other person is saying. This is called active listening.

            According to Skills You Need, “active listening involves listening with all senses. As well as giving full attention to the speaker, it is important that the ‘active listener’ is also ‘seen’ to be listening—otherwise, the speaker may conclude that what they are talking about is uninteresting to the listener.”[1]

            As I mentioned, it’s normal for the mind to wander. We’re human, after all. But a good listener will rein those thoughts back in as soon as they notice their attention waning.

            Advertising

            I want to note here that you can also “listen” to bodily cues. You can assume that if someone keeps looking at their watch or over their shoulder, their focus isn’t on the conversation. The key is to just pay attention.

            2. Use Positive Body Language

            You can infer a lot from a person’s body language. Are they interested, bored, or anxious?

            A good listener’s body language is open. They lean forward and express curiosity in what is being said. Their facial expression is either smiling, showing concern, conveying empathy, etc. They’re letting the speaker know that they’re being heard.

            People say things for a reason—they want some type of feedback. For example, you tell your spouse, “I had a really rough day!” and your husband continues to check his newsfeed while nodding his head. Not a good response.

            But what if your husband were to look up with questioning eyes, put his phone down, and say, “Oh, no. What happened?” How would feel, then? The answer is obvious.

            According to Alan Gurney,[2]

            “An active listener pays full attention to the speaker and ensures they understand the information being delivered. You can’t be distracted by an incoming call or a Facebook status update. You have to be present and in the moment.

            Body language is an important tool to ensure you do this. The correct body language makes you a better active listener and therefore more ‘open’ and receptive to what the speaker is saying. At the same time, it indicates that you are listening to them.”

            3. Avoid Interrupting the Speaker

            I am certain you wouldn’t want to be in the middle of a sentence only to see the other person holding up a finger or their mouth open, ready to step into your unfinished verbiage. It’s rude and causes anxiety. You would, more than likely, feel a need to rush what you’re saying just to finish your sentence.

            Interrupting is a sign of disrespect. It is essentially saying, “what I have to say is much more important than what you’re saying.” When you interrupt the speaker, they feel frustrated, hurried, and unimportant.

            Interrupting a speaker to agree, disagree, argue, etc., causes the speaker to lose track of what they are saying. It’s extremely frustrating. Whatever you have to say can wait until the other person is done.

            Advertising

            Be polite and wait your turn!

            4. Ask Questions

            Asking questions is one of the best ways to show you’re interested. If someone is telling you about their ski trip to Mammoth, don’t respond with, “that’s nice.” That would show a lack of interest and disrespect. Instead, you can ask, “how long have you been skiing?” “Did you find it difficult to learn?” “What was your favorite part of the trip?” etc. The person will think highly of you and consider you a great conversationalist just by you asking a few questions.

            5. Just Listen

            This may seem counterintuitive. When you’re conversing with someone, it’s usually back and forth. On occasion, all that is required of you is to listen, smile, or nod your head, and your speaker will feel like they’re really being heard and understood.

            I once sat with a client for 45 minutes without saying a word. She came into my office in distress. I had her sit down, and then she started crying softly. I sat with her—that’s all I did. At the end of the session, she stood, told me she felt much better, and then left.

            I have to admit that 45 minutes without saying a word was tough. But she didn’t need me to say anything. She needed a safe space in which she could emote without interruption, judgment, or me trying to “fix” something.

            6. Remember and Follow Up

            Part of being a great listener is remembering what the speaker has said to you, then following up with them.

            For example, in a recent conversation you had with your co-worker Jacob, he told you that his wife had gotten a promotion and that they were contemplating moving to New York. The next time you run into Jacob, you may want to say, “Hey, Jacob! Whatever happened with your wife’s promotion?” At this point, Jacob will know you really heard what he said and that you’re interested to see how things turned out. What a gift!

            According to new research, “people who ask questions, particularly follow-up questions, may become better managers, land better jobs, and even win second dates.”[3]

            It’s so simple to show you care. Just remember a few facts and follow up on them. If you do this regularly, you will make more friends.

            7. Keep Confidential Information Confidential

            If you really want to be a better listener, listen with care. If what you’re hearing is confidential, keep it that way, no matter how tempting it might be to tell someone else, especially if you have friends in common. Being a good listener means being trustworthy and sensitive with shared information.

            Whatever is told to you in confidence is not to be revealed. Assure your speaker that their information is safe with you. They will feel relieved that they have someone with whom they can share their burden without fear of it getting out.

            Advertising

            Keeping someone’s confidence helps to deepen your relationship. Also, “one of the most important elements of confidentiality is that it helps to build and develop trust. It potentially allows for the free flow of information between the client and worker and acknowledges that a client’s personal life and all the issues and problems that they have belong to them.”[4]

            Be like a therapist: listen and withhold judgment.

            NOTE: I must add here that while therapists keep everything in a session confidential, there are exceptions:

            1. If the client may be an immediate danger to himself or others.
            2. If the client is endangering a population that cannot protect itself, such as in the case of a child or elder abuse.

            8. Maintain Eye Contact

            When someone is talking, they are usually saying something they consider meaningful. They don’t want their listener reading a text, looking at their fingernails, or bending down to pet a pooch on the street. A speaker wants all eyes on them. It lets them know that what they’re saying has value.

            Eye contact is very powerful. It can relay many things without anything being said. Currently, it’s more important than ever with the Covid-19 Pandemic. People can’t see your whole face, but they can definitely read your eyes.

            By eye contact, I don’t mean a hard, creepy stare—just a gaze in the speaker’s direction will do. Make it a point the next time you’re in a conversation to maintain eye contact with your speaker. Avoid the temptation to look anywhere but at their face. I know it’s not easy, especially if you’re not interested in what they’re talking about. But as I said, you can redirect the conversation in a different direction or just let the person know you’ve got to get going.

            Final Thoughts

            Listening attentively will add to your connection with anyone in your life. Now, more than ever, when people are so disconnected due to smartphones and social media, listening skills are critical.

            You can build better, more honest, and deeper relationships by simply being there, paying attention, and asking questions that make the speaker feel like what they have to say matters.

            And isn’t that a great goal? To make people feel as if they matter? So, go out and start honing those listening skills. You’ve got two great ears. Now use them!

            More Tips on How to Be a Better Listener

            Featured photo credit: Joshua Rodriguez via unsplash.com

            Reference

            [1] Skills You Need: Active Listening
            [2] Filtered: Body language for active listening
            [3] Forbes: People Will Like You More If You Start Asking Follow-up Questions
            [4] TAFE NSW Sydney eLearning Moodle: Confidentiality

            Read Next