Are you a bad listener? Perhaps people have said to you, “You’re not listening!” before. Maybe you find that people don’t open up to you as much as they do to other people.
Some people are naturally predisposed to being a better listener than others. For the rest of us, it may take practice to become a good listener.
The first step in becoming a good listener is identifying the mistakes that you’re making when listening – so that you can correct them!
Mistakes of bad listeners include:
Mistake #1: Thinking instead of listening
What is your brain doing when you are listening to someone? Are you off thinking about what’s for dinner? Are you thinking about instances in your life that relate to what the person just said?
What you are doing is thinking instead of listening. You need to really pay attention to what the person is saying, not let your mind meander – otherwise, you may miss something important.
Mistake #2: Doing other things at the same time
While multi-tasking is a brilliant skill to have, it’s also very rude to be doing other things when you are supposedly listening, and you may offend the speaker. If you are doing chores while chatting to your friend, reading your emails while at the dinner table, or looking at your phone when you’re out with family…
If someone wants to chat to you, you owe it to them to pay them your full attention. Doing other things at the same thing says “You don’t matter enough to me to stop what I am doing for you”.
Mistake #3: Interrupting a lot
Are you constantly asking the speaker questions when they haven’t finished their sentence? Maybe you’re interjecting with a similar tale of your own? Or simply putting in your two cents when they’re not finished yet?
While it can help to ask questions, regale similar tales, and give opinions, this can wait until the person has finished what they have to say. Wait for a gap in the conversation first, don’t interrupt. It’s not always necessary to say things in the gap either, sometimes people just want to someone to tell, without needing anything from you.
There are other cues that can make you a bad listener, like looking around instead of at the speaker, changing the subject, excusing yourself when they aren’t finished talking, and more…
It’s us recognising these cues and correcting them that can help us to become better at listening. Take the time and practice good listening skills so you can be more attentive to those around you.