The Benefits & Challenges of Being a Good Listener

How many times have you listened to someone and found that you have come away knowing them better for it? When a person speaks, they reveal a lot about themselves, so if you want to know a person better and understand their motives, dreams and desires, then it makes sense to listen more closely.

While everyone can hear, not all people have the ability to listen as attentively as others. This is why listening is often listed as a desired skill set.

When you start to listen to a person, you gain more insights such as:

  • Understanding what they expect of themselves and you
  • Better relationship-building with family, friends, and your coworkers
  • You will be able to resolve issues more quickly
  • Have a better understanding of what people are trying to tell you
  • You will know how to respond properly
  • You will become a trusted and respected person

The moment you present yourself as someone who is not listening, your trust level drops substantially. There are actually physical and mental barriers that you need to overcome in order to become good at listening.  The most common ones include things like:

  • Prejudice
  • Language and accent barriers
  • Noise levels
  • Fear
  • Anger
  • Worry
  • Poor attention span
  • Hearing issues

Some of these barriers are going to prevent even the best listener to fully understand the issue. A great example of this is trying to listen to someone who is not speaking their native language. They may use the correct words, but the biggest handicap is their accent. No matter how hard they try to pronounce words correctly, they are just not understood.

So what can you do if you are having a hard time understanding someone? A good active listener will often try to do the following things to improve their comprehension of the situation.

  • Move in a little closer
  • Maintain eye contact
  • Nod and smile to indicate that you are listening
  • Ask appropriate questions
  • Try to clarify the issue in your own words

By doing these things you are showing the person that you are doing your best to understand them. This can be very helpful and can put the person speaking at ease. Quite often they are feeling stressed out, nervous, and anxious. By helping them to put their feelings behind them, they can often explain the situation better.

As you can see it is not that difficult to improve your listening skills. Just be aware that there are problems that can prevent you from fully understanding people sometimes.

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