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We always pay great attention to our way of speaking. From public speaking courses to workshops and training, we see that effective speaking skills are sought-after by employers and companies. Whether it an official meeting or a casual discussion, we communicate all day long with our colleagues, clients, friends, or professors. Are we even listening while we engage in conversation with other people? Mostly, the listening part is virtually ignored. Listening is as important as speaking in personal as well as professional communication. It is a two-way process that involves both speaking and listening and an active listener pays full attention to what is being said and communicates accordingly. Read on to discover some ways to develop effective listening skills and enhance your networking opportunities and professional relationships.
- Make consistent eye-contact while talking– Body language has a significant role in communication. Maintaining eye contact communicates interest, focus,and understanding with the other person. Make sure to tailor your eye contact as per the need of others.
- Avoid distractions – Always focus on the conversation and do not let your mind wander. Do not let random thoughts disturb your flow and break your concentration.
- Understand the context of the speech – While communicating, focus on the specific words and phrases and try to understand the content and context of the conversation before replying.
- Show you are an effective listener by nodding – Other than eye contact, you should nod and smile while talking as it is the best way to show your agreement and interest in what the speaker is saying. Do not interrupt while someone is talking. Wait for them to finish and then raise open-ended questions in a polite manner.
- Avoid conversation when stressed or overworked–Try to avoid or postpone important meetings or discussions if you are overstressed. It gets difficult to concentrate when you are exhausted, and you end up wasting time. A bit of Yoga or meditation helps you destress in such situations.
- Pick up important points and let the speaker know – Sometimes, our attention gets drifted and we face trouble focusing on the conversation. For such instances, try to pick up a few significant points and discuss them when the speaker finishes talking. Make an honest effort and clarify your doubts.
- Ask open-ended questions – If you did not understand some parts of the conversation, encourage them to elaborate and ask open-ended questions to get lengthy responses from the speaker. This helps in understanding the big picture.
- Stay equipped with knowledge–Gather relevant information on the topic so that you can not only contribute effectively to the conversation but also listen patiently when the speaker discusses the same or related topics.
- Provide small encouragements – You can fight silence and build rapport with the speaker by using small verbal encouraging words such as “right”, “sure”, “yes”, “that makes sense”, “I understand”, and others.
- Practice listening at home – Listen to podcasts on developing listening skills and learn from them. You can also play an audio and try to gauge your listening ability. Recollect from what was played and make pointers. Seek assistance from a friend to help you evaluate your listening skills.