These are 5 ways to be a great listener. Hello everyone, my name is Samuel Balaoro and welcome to the BE Mindset, a place for future leaders and personal development. If you’re new here, follow us on Instagram. The month of April is officially the month of Financial Literacy. Now I’m not an expert in finances, but I am great when it comes to “relationship literacy”. So for the month of April, I’m making it Relationship Building Month.
There’s a saying, “Your network is your net worth.” Now if you want to learn financial literacy, there’s plenty of other articles to read and learn that. But here you will learn how to build quality relationships, so you can have a better network and possibly a higher net worth. So the first subject we’ll be talking about is the art of communication. I’ve split this into two parts that we will learn in the next two weeks, which is how to be a great listener and how to give direct messaging.
What do you mean by, “great listener”?
Now I know what you are probably thinking, “Samuel, what do you mean how to be a great listener? I know how to be a great listener. I’ve been listening since I was born.” Now I think you are not understanding what I said. I know everybody knows how to hear, but not everyone knows how to listen. Now let me know if I’m wrong, I am pretty sure you heard this before. I could even bet that someone said this to you before. “You weren’t there for me. You’re not even listening to me. You’re never here for me.”
Alright don’t lie, you know you heard those words before. It’s okay, don’t hurt yourself about it. That’s why you’re here now to learn how to listen properly. They say introverted people are better listeners than extroverts because they are pickier on who they choose to talk to and they barely talk, to begin with. I think that’s partly true because I’ve met extroverts that are great listeners, as well as introverts that are terrible listeners. Now I’m naturally introverted, but if you were to meet me in person, you wouldn’t think so because I learned how to balance the qualities of an introvert and extrovert. So whether you’re one or the other, you’ll learn how to listen properly. Now with that out of the way, let’s get this started.
5 Ways to Be a Great Listener
HAVE GOOD EYE CONTACT
1. Being a great listener means to have good eye contact.
This is the most important thing to be a great listener. They say the eyes lead to the soul. That’s one way I can tell if I’m speaking to a great conversationalist, our eyes meet. At the same time, I know when a person is not that great because they are looking away or are distracted by something else. It’s so important to have good eye contact. I noticed that conversations that are easier to remember are conversations that involve eye contact. When I’m not looking because I’m distracted by something else or I’m driving, I don’t really remember those conversations. So when the other person brings that up, most likely I’m clueless.
Now obviously you don’t want to stare down on a person, you’ll just seem like a creep. This is a technique I learned when I was younger, but I forgot who I learned this from. I call it the Triangle Technique. For a girl, I look at the right eye, left eye, then lips. For a guy, I look at the right eye, left eye, nose. Now don’t exaggerate this obviously. It’s meant to be an unconscious action.
You should probably practice this on yourself first. I suggest looking at a mirror, then go from the right eye, left eye, then lips. Do it again, but switch the lips with your nose. Practice this until it becomes natural to you. “But Sam, I’m still uncomfortable with looking at people’s eyes.” That’s perfectly fine, just look at their eyebrows first, until you get comfortable with the eyes. I don’t suggest looking at the forehead because the other person might think they have something on their head and you’ll seem weird.
READ THEIR LIPS
2. Read their lips.
This relates to the first part, but I don’t think a lot of people talk about this. I like to think of this as reading subtitles while watching the show. I actually started doing this because when I was younger I was in my church choir. Usually, I can learn the voicing easily, but I hardly spent time learning the lyrics of the songs. So what I would do is while I’m singing I will look at the other choir members’ mouth to understand what I am singing.
Does this mean I understand people when they’re mouthing words instead of saying it? No, I still don’t understand mouthing. To me, reading the mouth without the voicing is like watching a foreign show and the subtitles are in the same language as the show. So congratulations to the people who understand mouthing because reading people’s lips are probably second nature. I know most girls know how to do this which is why they are usually better communicators, but for the boys it’s okay. That’s why we are here to learn how.
If you’re with a friend or someone you’re really comfortable with, you can practice this. Don’t tell them you’re practicing this or they might over-exaggerate on purpose or get uncomfortable with you at that moment. Have a normal conversation and read their lips while they’re talking. Imagine as you can actually see the words coming out of their mouths and into your brain. The ability to see what they are saying is the beginning of understanding what they’re saying.
3. As a great listener, you must give feedback.
Now when I say this I don’t mean just any filler comments. What do I mean by filler comments? Filler comments as in “yeah”, “right”, “really”, “no way”, “for real”, etc. I’ll be honest and say I use filler comments too at times. But when it comes to listening, giving feedback that relates to the conversation shows that you are a great listener. It allows them to see that you understand what they are talking about.
Believe it or not, practicing this is a lot easier now than before. Before you can only practice this by just experiencing it with other people. Now here’s how you can practice this today. If you’re reading this on your mobile device, then go to your social media and look at other people’s content. From there, leave a relevant reply. Not just a general filler comment, but give real feedback. What’s great is that either the content creator will react to your feedback or other users will.
4. Ask questions.
This correlates with giving feedback. And just like giving back, you can’t ask just any question. Now I’m sure everyone knows the two types of questions to ask. There’s the informational “who, what, when, where, why, how” questions and there are the simple “yes, no” questions. What we’re usually told to do is only ask the informational questions and not the simple questions.
What I bet you didn’t know was that there are two types of simple questions. There are context questions and there are repeating questions. For example, let’s say the person said they like cars. A context simple question would be, “So you like Honda Civics?” On the other hand, a repeating simple question would be, “Do you like cars?”
Believe it or not, it’s better to ask repeating simple questions than to ask context simple questions because it shows that you are listening to the conversation. Of course, you shouldn’t always ask these kinds of questions because then it might seem like you have a hard time listening. This type of question is best used when you don’t actually understand the question. When you try to repeat a question from their statement, they’ll be honest and tell you if you really got it or not. However, informational questions are still the best questions to ask, while repeating simple questions is a good secondary.
You can actually practice this the same way as giving feedback, but I know some people are shy when it comes to asking questions online because not everyone is helpful. So another way of practicing this is from the things you watch. For example, if you’re on YouTube and you watched your favorite YouTuber, write down at least five informational questions to that YouTuber related to the video. Of course, like giving feedback, you eventually need to practice with people face to face. Person to person will have a different feeling than a comment on Instagram, so get used to the feeling of it.
HAVE A GOOD BODY LANGUAGE
5. Have a good body language.
Body language is really important and can be a subject on its own. For now, we will talk about basic body language. How do you know if you’re giving bad body language? Well, try doing this. Next time you find yourself in a conversation or better yet if you’re watching something like an informational video, record yourself watching it. Do you see the way your body is? Are you fidgeting your fingers or keeping your body closed in?
So how would you practice good body language? This practice is more of repetition and patience because it’s more of a habit. Let’s use sitting down as an example. We normally have a bad habit of slouching our back from our lower back to the upper back. So before my mom told me to put a book on my head and see how long I can leave it there. At the same time, she would leave pennies on my both of my backhands to force me to sit completely straight.
Now did it feel weird and uncomfortable? Yes. Did it help build better posture? Yes. Of course in real life you don’t want to look completely straight, but when you are really trying to listen to someone you need to be open. So instead of crossing your arms or fidgeting your fingers, keep your hands to the side and stick out your chest. Show that as someone is opening up to you, you are open to them.
SOMETHING TO REMEMBER
Something to Remember
These are the 5 ways to be a great listener. You must present all these things in order to become better as a listener. Work on the hardest one first, then work your way to the easier ones. Just remember that listening doesn’t only involve a connection through logic, but a connection through emotion as well. That’s why it’s important for you to be open to receive the other person’s emotions when they talk to you so you can get an understanding of not only what they are saying, but what they are feeling as well.
Thank you for joining us today. You have learned how to be a great listener. If you would like to ask a question or comment, leave a reply below. As we all know, conversations are different when you love the person you’re talking to. However, not everyone remembers what true love is. If you want to see the 5 Forgotten Truths About Love, click here. Please share and follow us on Instagram for updates on everything leadership and personal development. This is the BE Mindset and always remember to be alive, be happy, be free, be you.