Conversations are the currency of life; at the core, we are all social beings (even the introverts among us!) Better results in any area of your life start with more successful conversations.
Despite all our differences, we all want the exact same thing: we want to be heard. This is one reason social media has taken over so much living space. Put out any comment or thought and you’re sure to receive feedback quickly. However, it happens that those we want most to listen to us fail to do so effectively, which is not only frustrating but discouraging.
We’re all guilty of pretending to listen at times, focusing too much on composing our witty reply instead on what the other person is telling us. Becoming a better listener improves every relationship in your life; here are 3 tips for you to do so.
Paraphrasing is the more direct path to improving communication in any context. Paraphrasing is the Swiss Army Knife of all communication.
To paraphrase, you have to actually pay attention to what you’re hearing and remember it long enough to say back what you understood. Paraphrasing allows the other person to assess if communication is successful and it shows that you care enough to go beyond simply hearing the words.
The habit of paraphrasing is a way to force yourself to listen better.
Start your paraphrase with, “So what I’m hearing is ….”
Asking questions endears you to others more than anything else. Trust me, as someone who hates talking about herself, I’ve sailed through millions of social and business situations by asking questions (as I can never think of anything interesting to say.)
The great thing about asking good questions is this—when someone asks you questions, you not only take notice but often feel flattered by the attention. What’s more, actively asking someone questions encourages them to return the favor, showing an increased interest in what you have to say as a result. You can ask…
“What happened next?”
“How is this affecting you?”
And if you’re being criticized or feeling attacked in any way, ask clarifying questions before getting defensive.
If all someone wants is a potential solution, the best path to that is to Google the issue. What we want is for someone, usually a particular someone, to really feel what we’re feeling. If someone is sharing with you, that person is inviting you to play an important role in their life. Offer empathy by saying…
“If I were you, this would make me …”
“I can see why you’re feeling/doing….”
Caveat! You do not have to agree with the other person’s choices in order to empathize. Empathy is not approval. That said, you don’t need to tell the person how to correct their course of action, unless specifically asked to. This is why I have holes in my tongue….from biting too hard.
More successful conversations = more successful everything. Listen better to your clients and you’ll come up with ways to grow your business. Listen better to your family and notice tensions ease and happiness grows. (And if you listen better to yourself, anything is possible!)
Here’s to your massively successful conversations in the New Year!