Ten Ways to Listen Actively and Improve Your Relationships

This post is an excerpt from my upcoming workbook on Masterful Relationships.

“You ain’t learnin’ nothing’ when you’re doin’ all the talkin’.”

– Lyndon B. Johnson

People want to be listened to, respected, and understood. Listening draws people to you: value them and what they have to offer.

Knowing what people need and want are the keys to understanding them.  Anyone can take the time and make the effort to do this.

  1. Demonstrate a positive attitude and genuine interest. Look for areas of common interest and go slowly to avoid being perceived as too aggressive or pushy.
  2. People love to contribute. Let them share their thoughts and ideas. Be impressed and interested not impressive and interesting.
  3. Be fully present.  Look at the speaker and make good eye contact. Be fully present.
  4. Don’t interrupt. Use silence to give others the full opportunity to express themselves. “It’s just as rude to step on other people’s ideas as it is to step on their toes.” (Robert L. Montgomery)
  5. Ask open ended questions and show your interest. Let others do 80% of the talking. When you ask for someone’s wisdom, advice or experience you’re creating the foundation for a potential relationship.
  6. Always allow others to finish explaining their points of view, ideas, or conviction before offering your own.  Avoid “one upping” or trying to “out do” their ideas.
  7. Avoid jumping to conclusions. Most people have a fundamental desire to be understood and appreciated. We all want to know that what we think and believe matters.
  8. Use reflective listening or mirroring. This means using the exact or paraphrased wording of the other person to verify that you have gotten the message. It demonstrates you are truly listening.
  9. Show people how much you care and ask questions in a non-threatening way. You’ll be amazed by how much they’ll tell you.
  10. Use layering. This means taking a piece of the other person’s answer and weaving it into your next open-ended question. It helps you to have a deep and meaningful conversation.

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