Becoming a better listener takes time and practice. Here are a few things you can do to improve this critical communication skill.
- Establish why you’re listening. When entering a conversation, briefly reflect on the goals of the conversation and how you can best listen in that moment. For example, is your conversation partner seeking an honest critique, an analytical reflection, or an emotional connection? Then stay focused on that objective.
- Don’t make the conversation about you. While interjecting your own personal story can be an act of empathy and relationship-building, it can also derail the focus of the conversation. It’s okay to insert personal comments as long as you redirect the conversation back to the other person.
- Always ask for more context if you need it. Sometimes, just pausing and asking a probing follow-up question is the most powerful way to glean more information — and to show your conversation partner that you’re really present.