I must confess with my extroverted temperament I haven’t always been a good listener. Actually, I like to talk and talk much. And very often, I am way too impatient to wait until my conversational partner is finished. If it takes too long, I interrupt them. But over the years, I improved massively. Today, I am able to keep my mouth shut when it’s important.
I am living proof that attentive listening is learnable. And recently, I wrote a book about questions (sorry, only in German) and of course, the topic plays a big role in this context too.
But how about you? Can you stand it when others are talking? Are you really focused on your conversational partner? Or do you already think about your next reply or argument? Do you even lose track completely when someone is talking for too long? And are you good at letting others speak until they are ready? Before you answer these questions at once: “I am great in this!”, give it a second thought and reflect yourself in your next conversations.
When you decide that you are really good at listening, this might be for one of three reasons: First of all, you might be an introvert. In this case, listening is easy for you and your challenges lie somewhere else. Or you are extroverted but learned – like me – to keep quiet in the right moments. The third (and most unpleasant) option is: You only think you are good at listening but aren’t.
But if you noticed honestly, that you still have to improve on this, here are two ways to conquer this:
- Train your ability to keep your mouth shut. Start with easy conversations with colleagues or friends. Keep quiet until the other person is finished and then even wait two to three more seconds. That might challenge you, but it’s getting easier. And you will be amazed what happens.
- Train your inner awareness. That is more difficult, but it’s necessary when your thoughts are wandering around very often. All kinds of relaxation techniques are helpful in this case like meditation, yoga, autogenous training and so on. Everything that helps you to calm down and become concentrated brings you in the right direction. It may take you a while, but it can improve your life in many ways if you are more often in the here and now.
Both skills also help to improve how people around you feel about talking to you, both in work and private life. And that will change a lot – I can promise you that!!!