"To answer before listening-- that is folly and shame," we read in Proverbs 18:13.
Do you have trouble listening to others? Do you often find that your mind wanders during conversations and that you then have to answer someone without being sure of what they even said? Having bad listening habits can cause your friends and family to feel as if they aren't important enough for your attention. It can hurt your important relationships and cause those you care about the most to drift away from you.
"To answer before listening-- that is folly and shame," we read in Proverbs 18:13. If you have been lacking in listening skills, then use this Biblical quote for inspiration and encouragement as you work on improving yourself for your loved ones. Just practice these five simple tips and you will become a better listener in no time:
1) Make eye contact
Making and holding eye contact can seem like a daunting and awkward challenge. Thankfully, there is no need to hold constant eye contact during a conversation. Simply glancing into the other person's eyes once in a while makes it a lot easier to keep track of what they are saying, and it can go a long way towards making them feel heard.
2) Do not make assumptions
When you are listening to someone, do not make assumptions or judgments about what they are saying until they have finished speaking. Doing so can lead you to believe that you know what the other person means before they have said it themselves, causing you to completely misunderstand what they are really trying to convey.
3) Get clarification
If you've lost track of what someone is saying during a conversation, then it is time to get some clarification. Do not be afraid to ask the other person to explain themselves and to provide further details, as this makes it seem like you are engaged even if you do not understand. Once in a while you can restate what the other person has said in order to make sure that you are following along.
4) Ask questions
Asking questions is similar to asking for clarification, but it is a little different in that it prompts the other person to keep talking, to elaborate on what they are talking about, and to share more new information with you. Asking questions shows that you listened and that you care to hear more.
5) Give feedback
An important part of good listening involves, to some extent, the ability to do some talking yourself. Giving feedback and offering some personal input on what the other person said to you shows that you listened well. Making it a goal to give feedback after the other person has finished will make it easier for you to listen while they are talking.
Some of the above pointers may not come very naturally to you right away, and that is perfectly alright. When you first begin practicing your listening skills you might feel like you are constantly consulting a mental checklist, but, with enough time and practice, you will find yourself starting to listen to others more easily and naturally.