To become an effective communicator, with all the ease and success that phrase implies, you need to learn to listen just as much as you need to learn to speak.
This article, which is largely from reproduced from an article by Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D. at Psychology Today with a few additions from the Wellthisiswhatithink team, is excellent advice on how to achieve that.
Unfortunately, most people focus more on the speaking than they do on the listening.
Whether in a one-on-one conversation or a group meeting or classroom, focusing on what others are saying allows you to present yourself more effectively. And when you listen correctly, you also learn more, and make better decisions.
Look around the room during a lecture, presentation, or lunchroom. The tell-tale signs of people not actually listening are everywhere.
Some individuals put on a blank stare that can only be described as their “screen-saver face”. You know what that screen-saver face looks like: it’s that blank stare in which the eyes are dull and looking blankly into nowhere and the face has absolutely no expression on it at all.
You’ll also notice people in a group or audience who don’t look at the speaker at all. In fact, they look everywhere else.They fiddle with their pencil or longingly gaze at their cellphone or even try to sneak a peek at its screen. If there’s a window in the room they stare at the sky, even if the view is just that of the neighbouring office building. A great speaker may captivate even the most recalcitrant audience member. The average speaker, colleague, friend, or family member may have a hard time grabbing the gaze of the assembled listeners who don’t know how to practice basic listening skills.
If we are speaking, we want others to listen. So why can’t many of us perform the favour in reverse?
It’s possible that social media are causing many people to lose their focusing ability. Traditionally, the average listener requires a shift in stimulation after about 20 minutes. However, with rapid-fire messages coming everywhere from Facebook to Twitter to push notifications from online games, many people require a shift in stimulation after perhaps as short as 20 seconds. Unless you’ve got that charismatic touch, you’re going to have a hard time fighting the attention deficits of your audience.