As we continue to make fresh starts with the new year, let's focus some self-improvement efforts towards a very simple act...listening.
At least, it seems like it should be simple, but becoming a better listener can take work. How often have you been frustrated when chatting with a friend who is distracted, interrupting, and not fully present? And have you ever found yourself wishing you could be a better confidante for your friends? Or to be a more mindful and "in the moment" during conversations?
We have some tips for you!
It's OK to be quiet when listening. In fact, resist the urge to interrupt. Even if you are trying to sympathize or encourage a friend, you don't have to chime in with your own thoughts—sometimes the speaker just needs to talk and be heard. You can be that receptive friend.
Check your body language—right down to your feet! If your feet are both pointed to the person with whom you're conversing, you are likely fully in the conversation. If even one foot is pointed away from the person, it may look like you're looking for an escape!
Minimize distractions. Silence the cell phone, turn off the TV...do what it takes to help you focus on your friend.
And if you're doing the talking...
Slow down. Speaking more distinctly and slowly allows the listener time to hear you. When you listen to a fast talker, details get missed, like the last name of someone being introduced, for example. (And people introducing themselves often say their name so quickly it sounds like one word.)
May the new year be filled with good conversation!