Being a good listener falls under the emotional competency of interpersonal effectiveness and is essential for anyone who wants to be able to fully engagewith another person, at home or at work. But can anyone be a good listener? Is it something you are born with or is it a skill you can develop?
Listening and hearing are not the same, though. You may hear many things going on around you, but you are not necessarily paying attention to them. Listening requires your attention, your focus and your energy. In her new book "Coping with Rejection", Julia Hislop discusses the importance of a being a good listener in developing good relationships. People appreciate someone with good listening skills and everyone loves to be really heard and understood, according to Hislop. So what does to mean to be a good listener? Is it just a matter of being quiet and staring blankly at the person until they are done talking? Not quite, according to Hislop. Hislop states it requires the ability to listen without interrupting, not even to give advice or share a similar story. It means to encourage the other person to speak fully without judging or preaching.
Have you ever been interrupted mid-story? How did it make you feel?
Being a good listener does not require you to provide counseling or be an expert in solving problems. It is to provide an outlet for another person and as a good listener you should indicate with small remarks and nods of the head that you are actually listening to what they are saying. This will clearly demonstrate you are paying attention and taking in what is being said, and not just staring at them. Finally, by making a small summary of what they have said at the end you will have confirmed your understanding and that you were truly listening.
Being a good listener is a skill and like any skill, it requires practice and effort, but it does get easier as the skill becomes part your interpersonal habit and routine. And being a good listener can have quite an influence according to Matthews: "Isn't it a special experience to have another take the trouble to see life through your eyes?". "People out there are starving for someone to listen totally. If you would choose to affect people positively, try listening with 100 per cent of your attention. You will become a special person for them."