“When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.”― Ernest Hemingway
Active listening is an act of mindfulness.When we are truly hearing another person, we are fully present to absorb what the other person is communicating without waiting for our own turn to speak. We tune in to their words, ideas, opinions, and feelings without interference of our own.
Active listening is all about connecting.
We have every intention of connecting with our loved ones when we make plans to catch up over coffee or sit down for a family meal. We can be so overwhelmed with our responsibilities, obligations, and emotions that it is hard to get out of our own heads and into the here and now. Our stress can also be present, with that little voice inside your head reciting your task list over top of the person who is trying to tell you something important. Instead of letting that nattering worry hijack our limited time with friends and family, practice active listening.
Here are 6 ways to practice active listening:
- Turn off your electronic devices. Phones, television remotes, and other devices pull your attention away from the conversation.
- Lean in to the other person. This demonstrates to the other person that you are hearing what they are saying. It also signals to you that you are actively listening.
- Allow for silence. Accept a moment of quiet after your loved ones stops talking so that you know that they are finished speaking and so you can absorb what was being said.
- Keep re-directing your thoughts. Active listening is a practice so it won’t be an overnight fix once you’ve decided to be more mindful. When your mind wanders, steer your thoughts back to the conversation by focusing on the words of the speaker.
- Ask questions. Questions help facilitate dialogue, further the conversation, and let the speaker know that you are listening and interested in what they have to say. Asking questions can be particularly helpful when connecting with children.
- Repeat what they say. Repeat the words in your conversation to show that you understand what they were saying. Or, repeat the words in your head as they are speaking to bring yourself in to the present.
The result of active listening is more fulfilling connection to the people that you love. The moments you spend with them are richer because you are fully enjoying the moment of being together.
How did you feel when you attempted active listening? Let us know in the comments above.