Many arguments and misunderstandings could be avoided if the people involved had really listened to what the other had to say. But making the effort to listen earnestly can be hard to do.
Often, in the heat of the moment, we tend not to pay attention to what the other person is saying. We draw hasty conclusions. This is especially true in these times of social networking and political polarization.
Indeed, one of the of the main foundations of emotional intelligence is active listening. This skill requires the empathy of being able to look the other person in the eye and understand them, without letting our own experiences and life stories lead to hasty judgments.
Active listening broadens our capacity for understanding. It prevents us from jumping to conclusions before the other person even finishes talking, and before we understand what they are really saying. That’s why this technique has become a valuable resource in both private and professional life.
Here are 5 helpful tips for practicing active listening and avoiding unnecessary conflicts with the people around us.
1Repeat what the other person just said
Even if we only do it silently in our minds, this exercise helps us to understand exactly what the person said, and not what we think that they said based on our own ideas and preconceptions.
2Focus your mind
Thanks to the internet and cell phones, we tend to be easily distracted. Even during a conversation, our mind can drift and we can end up not absorbing what the other person is saying. That’s why we need to police ourselves to keep focused.
Here’s where we need to be particularly empathetic: We need to show genuine interest in what our interlocutor has to say. Let’s put ourselves in their place, trying to see from their perspective. This not only improves our understanding, but also helps the other person feel more comfortable to express themselves honestly and calmly.
4Prefer face-to-face interaction
When dealing with serious or delicate matters, it’s worth cutting out the mediation of text messages and giving priority to face-to-face conversation. This allows us more integral communication, perceiving each other’s tone of voice, expressions and body language.
We tend to judge and draw hasty conclusions from what the other person is saying before they even conclude what they have to say. We need to adopt the understanding posture of someone who wants to find the truth and solutions, and not broaden the differences.
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