Do you ever struggle when you listen to people speak, lectures, or conversations you hear? Listening is an important skill. Being a good listener helps not just with memory but connecting with people. Sometimes we blame ourselves for our lack of ability. Some people may naturally be better listeners than but that doesn’t mean listening isn’t something you can’t train. I personally think I could be much better at this and that’s why I practice. Even if I felt I was great at it, I would still strive to improve because I believe it’s that important. Let’s go over three tips to help you be a better listener.
What’s My Motivation?
Sometimes we just aren’t motivated to pay attention and so we don’t. Pay attention to the times you tune out in a conversation or a lecture. Ask yourself how motivated you were to actually listen. Would you have been far more attentive if someone offered to pay you a million dollars to remember what you just heard? Find a reason or multiple reasons as to why you want to learn better. Even if your reason is to better connect with another person or better grades.
What environment are you in? Many people like to listen to lectures or audiobooks in the car. You may be able to pay attention well part of the time but there may be other times when your attention is diverted to focus on driving itself. Think about when you’re talking to someone or listening to a lecture. Are you fully present or do you spend time checking to see if you got emails or texts. How does it make you feel if you’re talking to someone and they’re on their phones or not paying attention. The more you can focus on a person, the better they feel and the more they are likely going to like you.
The distractions don’t just have to be external. They can also be internal. Pay attention the next time you’re speaking with someone or at a lecture. Is your mind racing with thoughts about things you have to do, arguments, or anything else that is not related to what your listening to?
If this is a problem for you, a good meditation or breathing exercise should become a priority. Even if you just take a few minutes here and there throughout your day, can help. There are also guided mediation and brain entrainment apps available for download that can help if you have trouble just doing it in your own.
Be An Active Listener
A good tip to be a better listener is to turn yourself from a passive listener to an active listener. One way to do this is to use the concept of synesthesia. A small percentage of people are born with something called synesthesia. What that means is they combine two or more senses. For example, imagine seeing colors when you hear music. Even if this is something you were not born with, you can develop a skill like this.
When someone is speaking, try this exercise. I’m your mind, try to actively make images or like a movie in your mind of what the person is saying along with emotions. The purpose for this is that “a picture is worth a thousand words.” People remember their impressions and emotions about people and events better than what actually happened, took place, or was said.
It’s like making a movie in your mind of the conversation or lecture. You may be wondering how to do that with a mundane lecture? You might have to get creative and find a way to encode the information in a different way to make it memorable. You may have to use rhyming, colors, or any other creative images that will help you remember the material more effectively. Be careful not get so hung up on trying to get the right images that you end up distracting yourself and missing the information. Don’t expect to be an expert at this right away.
I believe that too much time in front of a television or watching movies dampens this skill. Partly because it makes us lazy. We don’t actively think of the images in our heads. Listening to podcasts, audiobooks, or the radio can be a good way to enhance this.
As you’re doing this, give brief recaps to the person on the conversation from time to time. This let’s both of you know if you have understood the material well or perhaps can clarify any misunderstandings. Asking questions can be another beneficial way of making one feel listened to.
There are many factors that can contribute to being a good listener. If you don’t consider yourself good at it, then make it a point to practice. People like good listeners. It can make you seem more personable and can help you understand the other persons point of view in more depth. This may help you connect with your team or help you get promoted. This can be good practice for businesses. Clients or customers that feel listened to have a greater chance of trusting you and giving you more business. On the other hand, those who don’t feel listened to may get the impression that you don’t care. It’s your choice, but I know I’m working on becoming a better listener and hope others do too.
About the Author - Dr. Daniel Lopez
Realizing that if he could not help himself, Dr. Lopez would be unable to help others effectively. He dedicated his life to finding real answers. His website (www.daniellopezdo.com) is dedicated towards physical, emotional/mind, and financial health.
Daniel Lopez, D.O. is an osteopathic physician with Osteopathic Integrative Medicine in Lakewood, Colorado. Dr. Lopez has developed a unique but powerful style where he has patients from around the country and the world that travel to see him for headaches, TMJ issues, eye issues, neck pain, back pain, and more.
He is the author of the Amazon best seller "Unwinding the Body and Decoding the Messages of Pain: An In-Depth Look into the World of Osteopathic Physicians and How They 'Magically' Use Their Hands for Healing." He lives in Aurora, CO with his wife and daughters.