As a wise man once said, “Nature has given men one tongue but two ears, that we may hear from others twice as much as we speak.” Even still, listening is a difficult skill. More often than not, we find ourselves listening to respond, rather than listening to learn. Don’t worry if that sounds like something you’re guilty of.
It’s never too late to learn how to be a better listener overnight.
Remember to Maintain Eye Contact
Above all else, maintaining eye contact lets the person you’re speaking with know that you’re listening. But that isn’t all that it does. When you maintain eye contact, you are more actively involved with the conversation by default. It’s hard to be disengaged when you’re making a concerted effort to keep your eyes focused on the person you’re talking to.
It may feel uncomfortable or awkward at first, but it’s ultimately one of the most important communication skills that you can develop throughout your life and career.
Limit Distractions as Much as Possible
It’s far easier to maintain eye contact and be a better, more active listener when you limit distractions as much as possible. Put down the smartphone. Forget about the clock. In those moments when you’re trying to be a present listener, just focus on being present.
To become a better listener overnight, start by limiting as many distractions as you possibly can.
Ask Questions to Dive Deeper
By far, the best thing you can do to become a better listener overnight is to simply ask questions. Dive deeper into the conversation and make it all about the person you’re speaking with.
One of the worst things you can do when you’re trying to be a better listener is to assume you know the answers to the questions you’re asking. Don’t try to be a mind-reader; just allow the person you’re in conversation with to lead and answer freely.
In the end, being a better listener just takes patience, concentration, and a willingness to tap into your natural sense of empathy. Be the person you wish would listen to you, and center all of your conversations around the idea that you’re there to learn from others. Ultimately, this practice will make you not only a better listener, but also a better person all around.