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Intellectual Wellness

Ways to Practice Your Active Listening Skills in Every Conversation

What is Active Listening?

Have you ever been talking to someone and lost the thread of the conversation? I have. Sometimes you might even zone out and only pretend to listen. But even when you are not interested in a conversational topic, practicing your listening skills can pay off big. Building better listening skills when it’s hardest to listen will increase your skill level even faster.

People are fascinating, and even those who may at first seem boring often have remarkable insights that can be interesting, useful, and even funny. Learning how to use active listening skills will help you get more out of the best experiences in your life.

Businessman concentrated on listening at group meeting
Active listening skills make it easier to get the most out of your conversations. (Image Source: Shutterstock)

Not paying attention can be embarrassing and can damage your relationships with others. If someone has something important to say, you may have to ask them to repeat themselves. They may even withhold valuable information if they feel like you aren’t paying attention.

Active listening skills make getting the most out of your conversations easier. When you listen closely to others, they also pay more attention to you. Everyone appreciates attention, and you will strengthen your relationships when others see how much you care.

Keep reading to learn how active listening skills can enrich your life and make communication more fun and rewarding.

Listening Skills: Why Should You Care?

Would you like to be more persuasive and popular? Active listening creates a safe space where everyone can feel heard. People like attention, and they appreciate you more when you treat them like their time is valuable and they have something important to say.

Active listening shows people you care about them and are eager to hear more. Listening shows respect, and when you show respect, chances are you will earn more respect, too.

The Art of Listening | Simon Sinek

It may sound counterintuitive, but learning how to listen better will make you more persuasive, as well. People are more inclined to listen to you and take you seriously when you listen to them and treat them with respect. Active listening will help you be more popular and respected and can be the key to getting more of what you want. Learning how to be an active listener is one of the fastest ways to improve your communication skills.

The technique of active listening gets better the more you practice. I’ve been working on my active listening skills for many years, and I often find myself learning something new. I even get insights when I’m talking to children or people I’ve known forever. You never know who is going to teach you something valuable, or where you’ll find your next lesson.

How to Practice Active Listening Skills in Every Conversation

Active listening can help you learn how to build a strong relationship. It’s also easy to do. All it takes is a little bit of preparation and practice to become an expert.

The core of active listening can be summed up in these four steps:

  1. Put down your phone. 
  2. Make eye contact.
  3. Provide encouragement. 
  4. Ask relevant questions.

Let’s look at each of these steps more closely.

Put Down Your Phone

When you’re in a conversation, how can the other person tell that you are paying attention?

The easiest way to let someone know you are listening is to put your phone away. Most people are really attached to their phones. A willingness to put away that little distraction is perhaps the highest compliment you can pay.

Make Eye Contact

Once your phone disappears, turn your body to face them and make eye contact. Sipping on a drink is a good way to keep your hands busy so you can keep your eyes focused on the speaker.

Provide Encouragement

Offering encouraging statements and making hand gestures will show you understand and are interested. If you smile and nod your head from time to time, it will encourage them to say more.

College friends walking in campus and talking, having break after classes
Offer encouraging statements. (Image Source: Shutterstock)

Ask Relevant Questions

You can become a more active listener by asking relevant questions to help focus the direction of the conversation. If they say something particularly important, you might want to ask, “Can I repeat this back to you to make sure I got it right?” You’ll find questions like this useful, and most people will appreciate the care you are taking with their words.

As you improve your active listening skills, your conversations will become richer, deeper, and more rewarding for everyone. Every healthy relationship includes a lot of deep, meaningful communication.

Active Listening Skills Improve Your Reputation

I will sometimes give the book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, as a gift to someone I care about. It really is a must-read. It can teach you how to be a better listener, and it has many other valuable lessons, too. I re-read it every few years because I learn more every time I do. I use the skills it teaches in every conversation I have because it makes me a better friend and helps me show that I really care.

One secret to being popular and persuasive is that it’s a two-way street. The more you show other people you like them and take them seriously, the more they will reciprocate. You can build healthy relationships where everyone wins, learns, and grows by cultivating these skills. With a little work, these skills will help you enhance your interpersonal interactions and relationships.

Two female friends talking at a coffee shop
Practicing active listening skills on a regular basis is a good idea. (Image Source: Shutterstock)

Practicing active listening skills on a regular basis is a good idea because you will probably see rapid improvement right away. Over time, your skills will get sharper and sharper until you are an expert communicator. Many people have dramatically improved their communication skills without needing a lot of time or effort. If you can become a better communicator, you will be more likely to get promoted, find love, or breathe new life into your existing relationships. As you become a better listener, it will also get easier, and you’ll have a lot more fun in your conversations.

I recommend you create a habit of listening closely when you are in a conversation. Maybe pick up a book on how to be a better conversationalist, and practice the active listening exercises inside. Take some time to practice today!

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