Is this the face of a good listener? Would you like to have her as a friend to talk to?
One crucial thing to understand is the way we connect with others. It’s not enough to be in the same place as other people. You can be in a crowded room, a busy station, a park full of people, even in bed with your spouse… and still feel lonely. In fact, it can feel much worse – to be close to others but be shut out, shut off from them, invisible. Sometimes you feel that even if you yelled and screamed, no-one would hear you.
Sometimes even if you’re in the middle of a conversation, you can feel that your companion has drifted off, distracted by something else or just daydreaming. They’re not listening to you any more, and when you prod them, they are startled as they pull their attention back to you.
“Sorry, I was miles away…”
Not very flattering, is it? Is what you were saying so boring?
Who knows what was going on in their head. Maybe they were terribly worried and couldn’t concentrate. Maybe they saw something fascinating over your shoulder. Maybe they’re exhausted after a hellish day. Maybe they’re shallow and selfish and need a slap…
Ignore that last bit – it’s how it makes us feel but it’s almost certainly not fair.
We’ve all had it happen to us… but have you ever been guilty of it? Not listening, not keeping your attention focused on what someone is telling you?
Being a good listener is a great way to connect: here are seven points of a listener.
Are they listening? Are they people you’d want as friends for their kindness and empathy?
1. Keep eye contact as much as possible; keep your eyes on the speaker’s face, at least.
2. Listen with all your senses – more is said with body language and tone of voice than with words.
3. Don’t interrupt. Don’t argue. Ask questions to get clarity, not to interrogate.
4. Stay close but not too close – don’t invade the speaker’s personal space unless invited.
5. Let your body show your interest; lean forward just a little, don’t fidget, but nod your head to indicate you hear them and understand.
6. Listen with empathy. Don’t criticise, and don’t judge – not even in your head.
7. Be kind. The speaker will feel your kind intention.
Do you know how it feels to have a good listener to talk to?
Are you a good listener?