Have you ever had a con­ver­sa­tion with some­one and thought, “are they real­ly lis­ten­ing to me or are they just nod­ding their head in agree­ment?”  It is also frus­trat­ing to have some­one lend a response before you have even fin­ished your thought.  It makes me won­der, are they just hear­ing me or are they actu­al­ly listening?

Accord­ing to Mer­ri­am-Web­ster, hear­ing is “the process, func­tion, or pow­er of per­ceiv­ing sound.”  Lis­ten­ing is defined as “pay­ing atten­tion to sound, to hear with thought­ful atten­tion: give con­sid­er­a­tion.”  Hear­ing is acci­den­tal, invol­un­tary, and effort­less.  Lis­ten­ing is focused, vol­un­tary, and intentional.

Lis­ten­ing is a vital life skill that needs to be honed dai­ly.  In order to make it an uncon­scious habit, you must first make it a con­scious choice. 

When con­vers­ing with some­one, either per­son­al­ly or pro­fes­sion­al­ly, here are 5 ways to let them know you are listening:

  1. All eyes on them. Main­tain eye con­tact (with­out staring/glaring). Try not to let your eyes wan­der the room to see what else is going on.
  2. A smile goes a long way. Is your smile gen­uine and warm, or is it plas­tered and unnat­ur­al?  A gen­uine smile makes peo­ple feel appre­ci­at­ed and comfortable.
  3. Body lan­guage is key. Peo­ple will know that you are ful­ly engaged when you shift your body to point towards them.  If you are lean­ing back with your arms crossed it is a sign that you are uncom­fort­able or threat­ened, there­fore not listening.
  4. Fid­get­ing is a sign of mind wan­der­ing. If some­one is bored with the con­ver­sa­tion, antsy to fin­ish it, or just think­ing about some­thing else alto­geth­er, they tend to fidget.
  5. Ask­ing ques­tions. Are you ask­ing ques­tions and/or repeat­ing state­ments back to them to ensure you under­stand them and to let them know you are engaged? Your respons­es are the eas­i­est ways to let some­one know you are listening.

Lis­ten­ing is a key skill in build­ing trust­ing rela­tion­ships. At Mack­ey Advi­sors we strive to lis­ten to our clients’ goals, con­cerns, and expe­ri­ences.  We want you to know that you can trust us in help­ing you to achieve your per­son­al and busi­ness goals. 

Look­ing for more ways to improve your lis­ten­ing skills? Check out Psy­chol­o­gy Today’s “The Art of Lis­ten­ing” col­lec­tion.