Are You An Active Listener?

Six signs you may not be an active listener and proven steps you can take to improve your communication skills...

Are You An Active Listener?

Conversing and collaborating are crucial for developing and maintaining relationships, however sometimes communication can breakdown due to how we register and respond. If this is something you can relate to then incorporating these simple, yet effective strategies should improve your conversational skills.

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  1. You are monopolising the conversation and their input is significantly less than yours. As a fellow chatty Patty, I am guilty of doing this too so don’t worry. To work on this, you could ask more open-ended questions and give the other person ample chance to really respond. Engaged responses strengthen your rapport and increase the likelihood of a positive outcome for both parties.
  2. You often leave conversations with more questions than answers. In most discussions there may be the potential for confusion to set in, but if this is a regular occurrence then you may need to reflect on your listening skills. Your questions should be clear, and you should ensure you fully comprehend their response. It is better for you to summarise their point and double-check that you understand their perspective rather than leaving the conversation with a miscommunication.
  3. You respond quickly and there are no pauses in the conversation. Whilst prolonged periods of silence may become awkward and uncomfortable, you should give yourself time to reflect on what you have heard and plan how to respond appropriately. Additionally, using minimal encourages such as ‘I see’, ‘yes’ and ‘uh huh’ are effective prompters to keep continue speaking.
  4. You interrupt others and divert the topic of conversation prematurely. Conversation interruptions happen but they are often avoidable. If you have noticed that you speak over others, or if someone has mentioned to you that you do this then you may wish to work on correcting this behaviour. People may become overly eager to convey their point so they interrupt the discourse, but if it keeps happening then it may be perceived as rudeness and lead to the conversation ending with a negative outcome. Try counting to three in your head from when the other person has taken their turn speaking and then you can reply.
  5. You have difficulty concentrating during conversations. Nobody is perfect and we can all become briefly distracted which could de-rail the conversation, however if you are frequently struggling to concentrate during conversations then you may need to consider why. If you miss parts of the conversation, then you can easily misunderstand what the other person is saying, and they may cease conversing with you if they notice your inattention.
  6. Your conversations seem superficial and rely too much on small talk. If your conversations often seem shallow or without substance, then you may need to mentally plan your content and intentions before the interaction so that it flows better and piques their interest. Authentic speakers exude confidence, sincerity and are engaging by effectively utilising tone, inferences, and body language cues to develop the discourse further.

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It is always important to remember that some people struggle with their social skills for various reasons so please always be kind to others and understand that someone may be battling things you are unaware of. Practising patience, respecting boundaries, and creating a culture of inclusion is crucial when interacting with others both personally and professionally.

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