If being a good listener is the secret to good communication, why do so many of us talk constantly? Maybe it’s the caffeine, but babbling is a bit of an epidemic in office settings. We babble about the weather, about a favorite sports team, and about the latest gossip. Then, we wonder why no one seems to understand what we are saying.
The reason? We are not practicing good listening habits. If you want people to listen to you, practice these techniques to be a good listener first. You’ll be surprised when you listen more intently that other people end up returning the favor and listen to you.
1. Rest your head on your fist
I will be honest here. I love talking to people who practice this technique. It’s maybe a throwback to Dr. Freud on a lounge sofa. When you place your head on your hand with your elbow locked onto a table or desk, you are essentially letting the listener know you are ready for the long haul. You are going to listen closely. It’s a show of honor and respect.
2. Put your fingers under your chin
If you’re not at a table or desk, do the next best thing. Place your fingers on your chin even if you are standing by the water cooler. It has an interesting effect on the speaker. You are showing you are ready to be an active listener. It’s not just a passing interest.
3. Watch the person’s mouth
This might help if you have had trouble paying attention or jumping in with your own comment. By watching someone speak, you are paying attention to their more subtle verbal cues like pursed lips and a smile. (It’s the same technique they used on the show Lie To Me.) It might seem a little weird, but it works.
4. Turn your head so you can hear better
It’s curious that you can listen (and hear) better if you turn your ear toward the speaker. Imagine that! It’s like turning the volume up on a speaker. Try it the next time you feel like you can’t quite pay attention to someone and see if you listen a bit more attentively.
5. Move your chair closer
One last method to listen more effectively: move closer. It shows the person who is speaking that you care enough to be more visually attuned to what they say and you want to ward off any distractions, even if technically you can hear them about the same.