Active listening might not get your heart rate up like cardio, or increase muscle mass like weight lifting, but it definitely helps build your character and stretch your mind. From keeping eye contact to recognizing your body language, being a good active listener is a full-body exercise.
Why Active Listening is Important
The Center for Creative Leadership touts active listeners as leaders who:
- establish trust with their employees and coworkers
- have greater empathy
- coach their people more effectively
- gain the respect of those around them
Developing active listening skills can create many positive reactions at work, at home, and in social situations. People who are open to truly hearing another person’s message, even if it’s contrary to their own beliefs, cultivate a myriad of other strong character attributes like broad-minded thinking, valuing inclusivity, being a life-long learner, and engaging a flexible mindset. These are all topics we’ve written about in our professional and personal growth blog series on Motivation Excellence.com.
Active listeners make more informed decisions. They are able to reiterate the speaker’s message without coloring it with their own personal viewpoint. They are seen as fair leaders who make an effort to better understand someone’s situation. These are all highly valued character traits in any person, but especially company leadership.
Listen Up! Here’s How
If you want to start on the path of being a better listener, there are plenty of techniques to employ right away.
We developed a MEme to help get things started:
Eye Contact – focus on the speaker
Attention – put down your phone, don’t multi-task
Respect – be open to the message and the speaker
Silence – don’t interrupt the message; show supportive body language
The final step is to repeat the message and ask clarifying questions so both you and the speaker agree you’re on the same page with sentiment, semantics, and context.
The exercise of active listening should be a positive one for both the listener and the speaker. VeryWellMind.com wraps it up like this:
“It is the process of listening attentively while someone else speaks, paraphrasing and reflecting back what is said, and withholding judgment and advice.”
You Can Do this Exercise Anywhere
Active listening skills can be employed anywhere! And, just like physical exercises, the more you flex these skills, the stronger they—and you—become. Try it out at the grocery store, with your spouse, at a party, and especially at work. People have important things to say. Be the person who hears them and you’ll find yourself becoming a stronger friend, colleague, and community member.