We grow up with the mistaken belief that listening is a "no-brainer," when, in fact, listening is a learned skill you can practice and get better at with time. Here are some techniques to practice that will improve listening skills:
- Focus on what's being said and not your response.
- Body language: Assess your body positioning for a listening stance. There's a big difference between a nod and crossing your arms!
- Eye contact is critical. It tells the sender you are following the message.
- Silence can be very effective as well, and tells the sender you are processing the information or that you want more information. People will often volunteer more details when give the opportunity.
- Pull out action items, especially immediate or critical tasks. Repeat them out loud at the end of the conversation.
- Kathleen Bartholomew, RN, MN