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8 Ways To Become A Good Listener

8 Ways To Become A Good Listener

When you are spoken to do you just hear or do you actually listen? It is a common misconception that when we hear someone speak we are automatically listening to what they are saying. For example, how frustrating is it when you are talking to someone as they type away on their phone? Imagine those times when you confided in a loved one and all they did was up to you and say “Huh? Can you repeat that?”

The truth is listening is a lot like reading. It involves concentrating on what the other person is saying and grasping the full meaning and impact of their words. The best leadership experts in the world excel at this skill. A lot of times when we read something difficult we attempt to skim, or simply don’t understand what we just read. Likewise, many people who unconsciously hear rather than listen fail to grasp the gist of the conversation.

Here are eight ways you can become a good listener today:

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1. Self assess

Ask yourself, “Am I really the ____ I want to be?” Whether you are trying to become a better person, employee, husband, friend, whatever it is, listening is important. Think of ways in which you can improve yourself and go for it. Think of the role listening has in self-improvement, in understanding direction, in family life, etc. Remind yourself that it is important to listen to constructive criticism and refrain from being defensive.

2. Remove distractions

It is a known fact that humans’ brains tune out much of what is heard in the immediate environment. As a matter of fact, you are still hearing things even as you sleep. According to auditory neurologist, Seth S. Horowitz, concentrating to pay attention is what makes listening that much more difficult than just hearing. You need to realize that you cannot pay attention to everything at once. You can’t read that email from your mother and listen to your manager’s instructions at the same time. To be a good listener you have to give the person speaking your full and undivided attention.

3. It’s not about you

Becoming a better listener involves understanding that this person wants to be heard, not listen to you. Do not interrupt them. Hold on to any comments or questions until the end. Wait until this person is done speaking to begin a conversation. How are you to be well informed without the whole story? Keep this in mind and don’t start to talk until the other person is finished.

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4. Get rid of the “me too” habit

When someone tells you a story, you should share your own right? Not always. It’s like that one time you told someone you were going on vacation to India for two weeks only to have them go off on a tangent about their adventures there while studying abroad. Attempting to ‘one up’ someone’s story or cutting them to interject with your own shows the person you are speaking to that you are not interested in listening to what they have to say. Stop it and listen, just listen.

5. Watch your body language

It’s not only about listening but looking like you are listening. If you’ve found that you’ve removed all distractions and are still having a hard time digesting the conversation, think of your body language. Are you looking past the speaker? Are you fiddling with your sleeves? Don’t. Look at their face, nod a few times, lean slightly toward them and don’t cross your arms. Train yourself to listen with your whole body, not just your ears.

6. Focus on the speaker

If you are speaking to someone on the phone, turn away from your computer. If you are speaking through an online program, close your door. Likewise, if you are speaking to this person up close and personal, it is important that you make eye contact. Not only will it make them feel important, it will help you grasp the urgency of the matter.

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7. Mentally Paraphrase

OK, so not all the people we talk to have the most interesting or understandable things to say. If you find yourself having issues paying attention to what someone is saying, try mentally paraphrasing important points. Not only will this help you stay focused, it will force you to pay attention.

8. Ask relevant questions

There is no better way to show you listened than to pick up on loose ends and ask about them. Asking an open ended question or many to clear any doubts or possible misconceptions. Chances are the person speaking to you will be delighted to answer. Not only do questions open up discussion about possible flashpoints, they also allow for smoother flowing conversations.

Throughout this process, keep in mind that listening is a key process when it comes to creating meaningful relationships. People who feel like you’ve listened, are more likely to appreciate your efforts whether they be professional or simply a matter of self-improvement.

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Listening, really listening is difficult when there are so many distractions around us. Hopefully, using these 8 tips you’ll become known as a good listener.

Featured photo credit: flickr via flickr.com

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Joel Goldstein

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Last Updated on January 16, 2020

12 Simple Ways to Boost Your Confidence Right Now

12 Simple Ways to Boost Your Confidence Right Now

The way you feel about yourself greatly influences how you live and interact with others. If you are confident about yourself, you tend to see yourself positively and actually enjoy spending time with and around people. You don’t feel self-conscious or awkward around others, and that allows you to live your fullest and happiest life.

However, if you’re drowning in a sea of self-doubt, hesitancy and shyness, you often withdraw and isolate yourself from others and avoid interacting and connecting with people. That anxiety you feel in the pit of your stomach when you are around people is holding you back greatly and it is not good for your emotional health and overall well-being. You need to do something about it if you are low in self-confidence or have friends or family members who are not confident.

“Confidence isn’t walking into a room thinking you’re better than everyone, it’s walking in not having to compare yourself to anyone” – Anonymous

Here are simple, practical tips to boost your confidence right now and make you feel and act your best.

1. Stop labeling yourself as awkward, timid or shy.

When you label yourself as awkward, timid or shy, you sub-consciously tell your mind to act accordingly and psychologically feel inclined to live up to those expectations. Instead of labeling and entertaining negative self-talk, visualize and affirm yourself as confident and strong. Close your eyes for a minute and visualize yourself in different situation as you would like to be.

Be your own cheerleader. Experts believe that positive affirmation and good mental practices like picturing yourself winning or achieving a goal can lead to greater feelings of self-assurance and prepare your brain for success.[1] As the saying goes, “seeing is believing.” Picture yourself as confident and soon enough you will begin to manifest behavior that gives evidence to this new ‘fact.’

2. Recognize that the world is not focused on you (unless, of course, you are Kanye West).

That means you don’t have to be excessively sensitive about who you are or what you are doing (or not doing). You are not on the center stage; there is no need for preoccupation with self and perfectionism. As rap music star Rocko sings, “You just do you and I will do me, aight?”

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Forget about trying to please everyone or being perfect. Trying to be perfect and being a people-pleaser puts too much pressure on you and creates unnecessary anxiety. Besides, people are too preoccupied with their own issues to pay much attention to your every move unless, of course, you are a mega famous, super celebrity like Beyonce or Kanye West.

3. Focus on other people as opposed to yourself.

If you are low on confidence, self-conscious, nervous and shy in social situations, focus your attention on other people and what they are saying or doing instead of focusing on your own awkwardness.

For example, think about what it is that is interesting about the person who’s the centre of the party or the guy or girl you are talking with. Prompt them to talk more about themselves and be genuinely curious and interested in what they say. You will instantly come across as confident and warmhearted.

People generally want to talk about themselves, be heard and understood. They will love it when you’re eager and willing to listen to them and really hear what they have to say.

This habit of focusing more on what you love in others as opposed to what you dislike in yourself will not only help you become more assertive and comfortable in virtually all social situations, but also instantly make you feel great about yourself.

4. Know (and accept) yourself for who you are.

Chinese military general, strategist and philosopher Sun Tzu, author of the internationally acclaimed book The Art of War, said, “Know yourself and you will win all battles.” Even in the battle with lack of confidence, you will need to know yourself to win.

Knowing yourself starts with understanding that people are not all the same, neither are all social situation suitable for everyone. You might not be confident in large gatherings, but you could be bold and confident in one-on-one and small group interactions. We all have our own unique gifts and unique ways of expressing ourselves. Embrace yours!

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Introverts, for example, have a quiet confidence that is, unfortunately, often confused for shyness. They are naturally low key and prefer to spend time alone. However, this natural disposition affords them certain unique gifts, such as an ability to listen better than most people and notice things that others don’t.

Your uniqueness is where your strength and advantage lies. You won’t be comfortable and confident in all situations all the time. Albert Einstein said,

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

5. Crack a smile.

If there is one sure way to instantly boost your confidence, it’s cracking a smile. Christine Clapp, a public speaking expert at The George Washington University, says that flashing those pretty, pearly white teeth will immediately make you appear both confident and composed. But, the effect of smiling is not just external. Studies show that smiling can also help nix feelings of stress and pave the way for a happier and more relaxed you.[2]

Not a bad return for something seemingly so trite, wouldn’t you agree?

6. Break a sweat—with exercise.

Working out is another great way to make yourself feel amazing and confident. Science has shown that exercising increases your endorphins, helps reduce stress, tones your muscles and makes you feel happy and confident.[3]

And hey, all you have to do is take a walk a few times a week and you’ll see the benefits. What seems to matter—as far as your confidence goes—is whether you break a sweat, not how strenuous your session is, which is pretty cool. Start working out now.

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7. Groom yourself.

This might seem mundane, but it’s amazing how much of a difference a shower and shave can have on your confidence and self-image. And when you spritz on a scent, the boost on confidence and self-esteem is incredible. As it turns out, your favorite fragrance does more than make you smell oh-so-nice.

A study found that a fragrance can inspire confidence in men. Interestingly, the study also found that the more a man likes the fragrance, the more confident he might feel. Another study found that 90% of women feel more confident while wearing a scent than those who go fragrance-free.

8. Dress nicely.

Another one that might seem trite, but it works. If you dress nicely, you’ll instantly feel good about yourself and give your confidence a real boost. That is largely because you’ll feel attractive, presentable and sometimes even successful in nice clothes.

While dressing nicely means something different for everyone, it does not necessarily mean wearing $500 designer outfits. It means wearing clothes that are clean, that you are comfortable in and that are nice-looking and presentable, including casual clothes.

9. Do activities you enjoy.

Whether it is reading a book, playing a musical instrument, riding your bicycle or going fishing, do what you really enjoy and what makes you truly happy often. It will boost your self-esteem, soothe your ego and allow you to identify with your gifts and talents. That will in turn bolster your self-belief and grow your confidence exponentially.

You might not become popular for doing what you love, but you might not even want to be popular at all. Being popular doesn’t make you happy; doing what you love does.

10. Prepare for the possibility of rejection / setback.

Late World No. 1 professional tennis player Arthur Ashe said, “One important key to success is self-confidence. A key to self-confidence is preparation.” You need to prepare for the possibility of rejection and setback.

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Why?

Everybody suffers rejection and setback at one point or another. You are not exempted. The question on your mind, therefore, should not be if you will be rejected, but how you will handle rejection when it comes.

Prepare yourself adequately in every situation to minimize the risk and effect of rejection and so that your confidence is not broken. For example, learn public speaking and rehearse what you are going to say beforehand if you have landed a public speaking engagement. That way, you are sure of yourself and confident you have what it takes to hack it. If you are rejected, don’t take it personally.

Rejection and setbacks happen to the best of us. Take it as a learning experience. Learn from your mistakes and move on.

11. Face uncomfortable situations square in the face.

Don’t run away from uncomfortable situations. Running away from people or situations because you feel scared, shy or timid only confirms and reinforces your shyness. Instead, face the situation that makes you uneasy square in the face. For example, go ahead and talk to that person you are afraid to approach, or go straight to the front of your yoga class! What’s the worst that can happen?

Prepare and be ready for any eventuality. The more you face your fears, the more you realize you are stronger than you thought and the more confident you get. This simple, yet admittedly courageous, act makes you unstoppable. You get comfortable being uncomfortable and begin to feel like you can take on the world. And that is the hallmark of someone destined for great things.

12. Sit up straight and walk tall—you are awesome!

Yes, sit up straight and believe you are awesome. Don’t slump in your chair or slouch your shoulders. Experts say the right stance can not only keep your self-esteem and mood lifted, but also lead to more confidence in your own thoughts.[4]

The way to sit is to open up your chest and keep your head level so that you look and feel poised and assured. And when you get up, stand tall and walk like you’re on a mission. People who sit up straight and walk tall are more attractive and instantly feel more confident. Try it now: you’ll feel fierce and confident just by sitting up straight and walking tall.

Featured photo credit: Freshh Connection via unsplash.com

Reference

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