You'll find tons of self-help books on improving your speaking skills, but improving your listening skills is just as crucial, if not more so in some cases. Check out this video from School of Life and see which "good listening" traits you rock at, and which you can work on.
Listening is more than just hearing words come out of a person's mouth. It's also more than just nodding and not saying a thing (although that can work sometimes). Good listeners do more than that.
- They egg people on: A good listener encourages you to dive into greater detail and connect the dots on your own. A good listener would egg you on by suggesting that you "Go on..." And they ask revealing questions to get to the source of your frustrations, concerns, and excitement. This helps build a "deeper base of engagement".
- They urge clarification: A good listener helps you explore underlying issues about something, rather than you simply using vague descriptors like "It's nice" or "I'm so fed up with my job". They help you dig way below the surface to find what about that thing is particularly "nice" or makes you "fed up".
- They don't moralise: A good listener doesn't get all judgemental about what you say, even if it's against the norm or status quo. They recognise and accept your follies, making you feel like you can be honest.
- They separate disagreement from criticism: A good listener can disagree with you without making the exchange feel hostile or showing disrespect.
In reality, these are a lot tougher to do than they sound, and certainly take practice. I'm constantly working on becoming a better listener myself. Before, one of my biggest problems was constantly feeling this overflowing urge to interject because I wanted to share my thoughts or give advice.
In my experience, this is the last thing anyone needs, unless they ask for it specifically.
Now that I try my hardest to avoid that, I find myself asking questions to get to know the person or what he or she is experiencing better, rather than trying to beat the person's problems or frustrations over the head with my often unnecessary input.
Being A Good Listener [School of Life]