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I have been accused of being a bad listener several times. At times, I am guilty of being a lousy listener and I want to change that. If you are also guilty of this, quit arguing and look for some help.
Research reveals that we tend to remember merely 25% of what we hear. Developing the ability to really listen helps to build strong social and professional relationships. Read on to find out how to become a better listener.
1. Don’t overestimate your ability to multitask
With the chatter in the office while I’m doing working on a report, I sometimes wonder if my brain can split its attention. Truth is, it’s just a hype: we are not capable of focusing on multiple tasks at once. We simply aren’t. We think we are, but what’s happening is our brain is jumping back and forth between the tasks, focusing briefly one at a time. And when we multitask, we simply aren’t listening at all.
2. Look at the speaker
When I was at University, I had this lecturer who always wants to see students’ faces while she’s talking. She argues that making eye contact is a simple yet effective way to demonstrate your respect and attention. I agree with here. There’s nothing that more quickly signals ‘I’m not paying attention’ than staring over someone’s head.
3. Never assume
Our biases and stereotypes can cloud our judgement. These can just make us unreceptive and don’t want to hear anything else from anyone else, even those closest to us. While the person may say one thing, ultimately you can only hear something else, simply because your mind is not open to receiving new information to begin with.
4. Ask questions
This helps you confirm what you just heard and also signals to the speaker that you are interested with what has just been told. But of course, ask relevant questions. Here are some tips to help you with asking the right questions.
5. Make it a habit to actively listen
Listening goes beyond hearing words. It’s an active process that requires practice. Listening is not something that just happens (that is hearing); listening is an active process in which a conscious decision is made to listen to and understand the messages of the speaker.
Dennis Relojo-Howell is the founder of Psychreg. He writes for the American Psychological Association and has a weekly column for Free Malaysia Today.
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