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.