Are you a good listener?
Many people think that they are, but in reality, most people aren’t really all that good at it, actually.
Being a good listener is so important. It’s no surprise that most of us are most interested in ourselves. However, it’s crucial that we make an effort to listen to what others have to say.
Everyone wants to be heard.
Fortunately, listening skills are something that can be learned and improved. Now that you are living a sober lifestyle, you are likely a better listener already than you used to be. However, there are things that you can to do make yourself an even better listener today. Read on to learn how.
Why You Should Improve Your Listening Skills
Improving your listening skills won’t solve all of the problems in your life, but you’ll be amazed at how much it can enhance your life overall. When a person is a good listener, people will respect and appreciate that person more than they might otherwise.
Listening well will improve your relationships with others. It will help you to avoid miscommunications and misunderstandings, and it shows people that you care. In turn, others will be more inclined to listen to you when you speak, too.
As someone in recovery from addiction, you likely participate in therapy or counseling and you may also attend therapy or support groups. To get the most out of these experiences, you must be a good listener. You may think that way you say is the most important thing in these settings, but really, what you learn from listening will be even more helpful to you.
It’s likely that your relationships suffered when you were an active drug or alcohol user for many reasons. Don’t discount the part your lack of listening skills played in those struggles. While you were at your worst, many people probably tried to get through to you by telling you how they really felt about your situation. You may have broken free from your addiction sooner if you had been a better listener.
You can learn so much by listening well. You’ll make more and better friends than ever before, too.
How to Improve Listening Skills
Everyone likes a good listener. We all can improve our listening skills. Even good listeners are not great listeners all of the time. Listening is something we all need to work on all of the time for the rest of our lives.
Listen for Learning
The first thing to keep in mind when trying to improve your listening skills is to listen for learning. Your primary motivation for listening to another person when he or she is speaking is to learn about that person and what he or she is trying to say. If you are only listening to be polite, that will often be evident to the speaker. Instead, try to fully understand what he or she is saying as deeply as you can instead of just pretending to do so.
Don’t Focus on Yourself
Many people are simply waiting for their turn to speak when listening to someone else. Try not to think about what you plan to say in response to someone speaking until that person is finished speaking. Don’t be afraid that you will have nothing to say in this case; if you really listen to someone as they are speaking, and really try to take time to understand what he or she is telling you with all of your being, you will have no problem coming up with a response when the time comes – and your response will be far better than the one you were trying to compose while your companion was still talking.
Make Eye Contact
It seems like common sense to make eye contact when someone else is speaking, but fewer people are doing this today than ever. There is something special about looking someone else right in the eye; it will help you focus, and it will send them a strong message that you are paying attention to what they have to say
Ask Questions; Repeat Back What You Hear
Asking questions can help keep you on task as a listener and can assure your companion that you are listening. However, take care to keep the questions related to exactly what the person is saying. Don’t ask questions that may take the person off track or that may cause him or her to unknowingly change the subject. It also helps to clarify what you are hearing by repeating back what the other person has said to him or her when there is a pause and before you respond with your own commentary.
Be Aware of How Much You’re Speaking vs. Listening
A good listener listens more than he or she speaks. Experts suggest that the ratio of listening to speaking should be close to two to one. Are you listening twice as much as you are speaking? If not, make an effort to adjust in any conversation and you be a far better listener than anyone who opts to do most of the talking.
Notice Body Language
Good listeners listen with more than just their ears. Social scientists believe that as much as ninety-three percent of communication is nonverbal. Therefore, listening includes a lot more than just listening to the words coming out of someone else’s mouth. You also must take care to notice how they are saying things, their facial expressions, the way they are holding themselves, the speed at which they are speaking, and more to really fully understand what is being said.
Practice Listening Every Day
All of the above tips will help you to become a better listener, but the best way to become the best listener that you can be is through ongoing practice. Even once you think that you are finally a very good listener, there is always room for more improvement. Keep practicing every day. The time and effort you put into this developing this skill will help others and will help you more than you can possibly know. Good luck!
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