Listening is a great skill. It’s not an inborn skill; good listeners actually put years of efforts and lots of patience to develop the skills into being a good listener. To be fair, many of us are awful at listening to others even though we don’t even realize it.
So, how do you tell a lousy listener from a good listener?
Lousy listeners tend to share some of the following habits. Developing consciousness about these habits will help you watch yourself while you’re listening to someone and then improve them to become better at listening to people and develop your personality.
They Attend to Other Things While You’re Speaking
Lousy listeners tend multi-task while you’re speaking. They will be busy fidgeting with their cell phones or texting at the same time they are listening to you. You will hear an occasional ‘uh-huh’ from them while they are not even looking at you. In the process, they lose the significant pieces in your message and, more often than not, don’t even get the message itself.
If you want to avoid being be a lousy listener, pay your undivided attention to the speaker and make them feel important. It’s the very first thing you should do respect the speaker.
They Plan to Respond While You’re Speaking
Lousy listeners are an impatient lot. They don’t really listen to you carefully because they are too busy preparing their response in the mind while you’re communicating with them. In the process, they miss out on the nuances of the message and sometimes, end up misunderstanding you altogether.
If you don’t want to be perceived as a lousy listener, show patience in the speaker. Allow them to finish their part and listen to understand them at a deeper level.
They Cut You Off to Say Something
Lousy listeners are not interested in your story or conversation. Even before you’ve finish the last word of your very first sentence, they will cut you off to share their own thoughts. Lousy listeners are always on the lookout for an opportunity to interrupt you so they can chip in with their thoughts. They are disrespectful without even realize it.
To be a good listener, you need to hold off on your urge to cut the speaker off and allow them to finish. Everybody loves it when you allow them to finish their story without being interrupted too often in the middle.
They Change the Course Abruptly
Lousy listeners don’t really care about what you’re saying even as it may seem meaningful to you. Sometimes, they completely ignore your point and start an off-topic conversation in order to avoid listening to you story. Collaboration or empathy is not their strong suit and they are least bothered about how you feeling ignored.
Great listeners empathize with the speaker. They are not afraid of the topic even when it gets a little awkward for them. They stay on course and try to understand the speaker and collaborate with them for a meaningful conversation.
They Hurry You Along
Lousy listeners tend to hurry you along because they don’t find your conversation interesting at all. While you’re communicating with them, they will be looking around or fidget, waiting for you to finish so they can start.
If you want to be a good listener, demonstrate patience in your speaker and allow them to finish their part rather than hurrying them off.
They Show Weak Non-verbal Skills
Lousy listeners don’t really listen to you with intent. Hence, you will often find them agreeing with you without even meaning it in the least. They will nod their head in agreement just to let you know they are with you but deep inside, they are elsewhere. Often times, they show inappropriate body language such as slouching on their chair or turn away from you occasionally. Talking to a lousy listener is asking to communicate with a lamppost.
Being a good listener is all about reading the non-verbal cues of the speaker. Sometimes, the speaker can’t really express themselves or articulate their thoughts well enough. Good listeners tend to read the fine print because they understand the body language of the speaker properly.
They Take Offence Too Easily
Lousy listeners tend to miss the point too often because they are a sensitive lot and tend to take offence in the most innocent of the conversation. They are judgemental and cannot withstand honest feedback about themselves because they enter the conversation with a defence mechanism. They use sarcasm, jokes or tantrums to derail the conversation and suggest you that either change the topic or let them alone.
If you want to be a good listener, always enter the conversation with an open mind, without carrying any pre-conceived biases about the speaker. Be open to criticism in the context of the conversation, allowing the speaker to make their point rather than being confrontational with them.
They are Quick to Offer Advice
Lousy listeners are too quick to offer advice and suggestions without evening listening to you fully. That’s because they think they already know what you’re doing to say even before allowing you to finish. Even if they offer suggestions with your best interest in mind, it’s not really useful because maybe, the speaker doesn’t even need it to begin with.
Good listeners understand the psychology of good communication.
Sometimes, the speaker doesn’t really need any help or suggestion and rather just want someone to they could express themselves to and let go of their pent-up feelings. Therefore, just being out there and listening to them is the best way to help your speaker.
Take Away: How you listen to others says a lot about your personality. Often the best way to judge someone traits is to observe how they listen to others. It really exhibits quite a few things about their inner being. It’s easy being a lousy listener because it’s actually quite an effortless process. However, being a good listener takes great deal of emotional investment. But it’s totally worth it because it pays rich dividends and helps you develop your personality in the long run.