2 Simple tactics to be a memorable listener
Every day we come across people that speak too much and listen poorly. The worst part is that they have no awareness that they’ve been talking for so long. What if we imagine being these people? What if we are?
The truth is, that I personally realised that I have a listening problem few years ago when a close person told me that even though I listen, it seems that I’m just waiting to talk. After this incident, I started to pay attention to my listening skills. That also led me to suddenly see others who also were not listening. In one case it was quite annoying to notice a person talk for 4 minutes and not follow up with a question to get my comment or interaction. He would just continue talking if I wouldn't have interrupted.
4 minutes is a long time. To put this into perspective, world leading neuroscientists Mark Robert Waldman and Andrew Newberg, have noted in their book “Words can change your brain” that our brains can only process about four “chunks” of information only for 20-30 seconds. In that case, more than 80% of what this person told me was lost. One thing has remained. What I remembered is the fact that this person didn’t feel like a good listener. It felt like he only used me as an audience, not a person to connect with.
Not all interactions need great listening skills, but some are especially important. For example, when you’re creating an authentic and long-lasting relationship. That’s a connection where you want to interact on a level that goes beyond words and shows your attitude that you care for that person. It’s the couple that works to improve their relationships, or, it’s the friends that want to reconnect after being lost in the weekly grind. Some of the most meaningful relationships where listening is the key moment is with our parents or children. These are some of the situations where listening is getting you to new depths where words wouldn’t.
So here are 2 simple tactics to improve your listening skills and make others remember you as someone who cares for them.
After the person finishes talking, show that you care by mirroring what the other person said. In most cases, it’s not necessary to say things word for word, so instead use the highlights of what you remember and maybe put in some "question" moments of “If I understood you correctly…” that lead to further understanding.
If you get to hear a reaction like “that’s right” after you mirror, you will feel more connected.
Make sure that mirroring is natural as you don’t want to sound robotic, but even if at first you do, don’t worry. Mirroring is harder than it sounds, but it is one of the great ways how to show that you actually listen. Also, notice how many other people do mirroring, you’ll be surprised.
And a note, don’t do the mirroring body language routine that some suggest. Words work far better and body language should be the last thing you try to control if you want to really listen to someone.
Shared eye focus
Second, moments of joint eye focus. This tip actually comes from a must read book “The Art of Conversation” by Judy Apps. Fairly often we hear that good listening is about looking into the other person’s eyes and trying to feel what the other person is saying, but in reality it can come off quite creepy and distracting to the speaker. Instead, notice where the speaker is focusing his eyes. Quite often, when we share things, we look to more neutral things because it helps us express ourselves.
Try to join their eye focus on an object and suddenly you’ll feel more connected and the person will feel like you’re more in the moment rather than a person trying to pretend to be a good listener.
This is also a great way to lower social anxiety as being in the moment is far more valuable asset than trying to control how you feel when you look into the other person's eyes.
We've designed asya to help people become better listeners.
By trying a mindful listening practice you can learn in real-time how much you listen and improve your listening skills. We believe that with more awareness you can make better choices in your interaction.