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How To Master The Art Of Listening Intently As a Skill

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Good listening skill is vital in improving relationships. In this article, you will get to know how to master the art of listening intently.

<!-- set a 640:360 i.e a 16:9 aspect ratio --><img src="listening-intently.jpg" width="640" height="360" alt="two ladies discussing. Illustration of the art of listening intently">
Photo Credit: Pexels / Alexander Suhorucov

In this present time and in years to come, listening will continue to be a crucial communication skill that is important to master. And applying or expressing this skill is what makes it an art.

One significance of mastering and applying the art of listening intently is that it builds a strong relationship with people. It also enhances one’s professional and personal life.

And being art that it is, it’s something that anyone can master. Just like every other skill, you just need to practice it, and with patience, it will become second nature.

Listening definition

Listening as a skill means giving attention to something or someone. When someone listens, the person is hearing what the other is saying and trying to understand what it means.

Listening also links to our memory because we can use certain tones and sounds to recall information by listening to those same tones and sounds in our heads.

How to master the art of listening intently as a skill

Here are tips on how to master the art of listening intently as a skill.

1. Make up your mind

Unless you make up your mind to listen, it can be hard to stay open-minded and easy to act like you’re listening without truly listening. Everything begins with the mind, and if the mind doesn’t accept something, nothing can be done.

However, if you manage to force yourself to listen without making up your mind, you will probably not give your full attention. So, you will need to allow your mind to create a conducive atmosphere for listening.

2. Don’t interrupt

Often, some people use this as a medium to control the tongue. Not only is this a good way to control the tongue, but it also shows that you care to listen to what the person has to say.

Aside from that, it’s good not to interrupt in communication because it shows that you’re humble and not rude and that you don’t mind being patient.

Also, there’s a kind of memory offload people tend to go through when giving out information. Interrupting when the person is not done or ready to pause will result in breakage and loss of memory.

3. Make eye contact

A powerful body language you can use to show that you’re listening is eye contact. Studies have shown that about 70% of our communication with people is non-verbal, and eye contact remains a major factor.

This proves why it’s important to maintain eye contact during communication with people. Not making eye contact creates a barrier between the speaker and the listener. This will make the listener seem uninterested.

4. Respond appropriately

How you respond when listening shows your level of understanding and that you know the angle the speaker is coming from. Responding appropriately will also create more honest and open effective communication.

Ideally, you would want to respond in a way that shows you’re engaged, you listened well, and that you get the point the person is trying to make. When done right, it creates a better and smooth interaction.

5. Ask questions

When listening, it’s okay if you were not able to grab some things the speaker was trying to say. However, when you ask the right questions, you will be able to catch the information you intend to get.

Although listening requires paying attention in quietness, you don’t need to stay quiet all through the interaction. This is where asking the right questions come in.

In most cases, you ask for clarification, elaboration, continuity, or more information related to the topic. Questions like, “do you mean you lost it before the next trial?” for example, fits in when asking questions.

6. Pay attention to body language

Paying attention to the body language of the speaker as well as yours, will give room for more active listening. While talking and listening are what communication is about, body language is more dominant in communication.

This includes gestures like facial expression, voice tone, space, posture and body movement, etc. Paying attention to the speaker’s body language will help in grabbing more than just the words. Likewise, giving the right body language indicates that you’re engaged, interested, and listening intently.

7. Grab everything

This is one of the reasons why asking questions when listening is important. You would want to ensure that you don’t leave any stone unturned. It’s important to grab everything because you want to avoid missing out on information you could use in the future.

Also, you don’t want to miss any information you could use to justify that you were listening actively. There are also instances where some people can’t tackle something because they missed specific information.

8. Avoid negative judgment

To maintain smooth listening and communication, it’s important to avoid any form of negative judgment. This will show your kind-hearted personality and ensure that you don’t fall into the combative listening style.

Negative judgment will scare or put the speaker off. Thereby, limiting the information the speaker has to share with you, even the important ones. Non-judgmental listening also shows that you value and respect the speaker.

9. Be more observant

How observant you are when listening also makes a difference. When you improve your observation skills, it allows you to make better decisions and listen with more than just your ears.

It also serves as a gateway to responding appropriately and interacting better. If you ask the right questions, avoid distractions, and pay attention to body language, you will be more observant with little effort. Sometimes, just following your instinct can help, as long as you have good intentions while listening.

10. Be mindful not to shut down

As humans, we tend to shut down when listening, especially when it seems long or not fun to hang on till the end. At this point, the attention span begins to drop, and the engagement will die off.

This happens almost subconsciously, and it’s not something you can predict how long it will occur once it happens. But one of the best ways to tackle this is to be mindful of when you’re beginning to steer into the shutdown mode.

11. Keep off from distractions

Active listening is free from any form of distraction. Sometimes, little things can be distracting during communication. This makes it important to create a distraction-free environment for better focus and active listening.

Prioritize listening over speaking. This way, you bring your focus and that of the speaker together. Cell phones and other gadgets can also be a barrier between active listening because they take away our attention.

12. Use feedback

Once in a while, we may find ourselves being guilty of one or two not-so-good habits when listening. So it’s a good idea to get feedback from people on what they think about your listening skills, especially those you have had conversations with.

With this approach, you get to improve your listening skills and continue to learn from the feedback you get. And if there are aspects of listening intently you’re getting right, it can also act as motivation to listen better.

In conclusion

Mastering the art of listening intently is basically about expressing or applying the skill of listening in the right way. It’s not just a skill of paying attention to something or someone, but also trying to understand the meaning.

Being a skill it is, it takes patience and practice to master. You just have to make up your mind first, then give the speaker time with the right body language, questions, responses, and full attention without negative judgments. Observe more, avoid distractions, and try not to shut down while listening.

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