Guest article by Chris Heller
When you talk to another person, you can never be 100% sure what they mean, what they are saying, and not saying. But there are methods you can use to get a better understanding of what they are trying to communicate. Here are some techniques that may help you.
Pay Attention to Body Language and Facial Expressions
Body language and facial expressions will give you an idea of what a person is really trying to say. Facial expressions are very telling. Movements like a smile, frown, or eyeroll will tell you how your communication is coming across.
Body language is also important. A person may use their hands to further express their ideas. Their posture also reflects their attitude and can tell you whether they feel bold, insecure, scared, and so on.
Get Past Virtual Messaging
Virtual messaging is a convenient way to communicate, but a lot gets lost in translation. If you are unsure what a person is saying when they are sending a message, don’t hesitate to ask if they have time for a phone or video call.
Asking questions is a good way to get clarification on the message a person is communicating. Don’t assume you know what a person wants. Take time to ask questions and find out what’s really going on.
When asking questions, be sure to time them appropriately, making inquiries only when the speaker pauses from speaking. It’s also best to ask questions that are relevant to what the speaker is saying so you don’t take the conversation off track.
Pay Attention to Your Filters
Many of us have bad habits that can get in the way of truly understanding what a person is trying to say. We may recognize a theme and assume we get the full message, although this is not the case. We may tend to cut people off in the middle of sentences or start drifting off because we think we got the full message.
If you find yourself doing this often, work on minimizing bad habits. Strive to pay attention to the person you are talking to in every conversation you have. Meditation may also be helpful as it is said to improve focus.
Maintain Eye Contact
Maintaining eye contact goes hand in hand with good listening. It shows you are not distracted by your phone or the things around you. It also allows you to focus on a person’s facial expressions and body language.
Stay Open Minded
It’s possible that a person may say something that rubs you the wrong way. They may put forth an idea you don’t think will work or they may say something you don’t agree with.
When this happens, it’s important to hear them out and not interrupt. If you interrupt them, you may not find out where their thought is going. You may also end up causing unnecessary friction between yourself and the other person.
Picture What the Speaker is Saying
Sometimes it can be difficult to home in on what the speaker is saying, especially if the subject matter doesn’t particularly capture your interest. If this is the case, you can play a game with yourself by picturing what the person is saying. This can come in the form of a distinct image or an abstract concept.
Beyond listening to what the speaker is saying, you must also show empathy to what they are feeling. Obviously, this will be the case if someone is telling you something emotional, but it can work at any level. For example, on a professional level, it can let you know how a worker feels about a specific task or requirement.
Good business and good listening go hand in hand. Now that you know how to focus on what a person is saying, you can be assured that you are truly understanding them. What do you do to improve your listening skills?
Listen to What They Aren’t Saying
Ask yourself, what would have someone say what they are saying? In other words, what is behind the comment or question they are asking. This helps you listen to what is behind the words they are using.