Stop, Look and Listen
I was in the store today and I walked past a book called "How to Talk So People Will Listen." I've never read the book and don't really know what it's about, but assume it may have to do with being influential with your words. The title made me think, though. What if someone wrote a book named "How to Listen So People Will Talk." (Maybe that book's out there and I just don't know about it. If so, please forgive me.)
Listening is a very important part of any relationship. When you have good listening skills, people WANT to talk with you. There is such validation in sitting with someone who listens and cares.
So....how DO you listen so people will talk?
1. Give someone your undivided attention. That means put down the phone/tablet/electronic device. Maybe even turn it off or silence it so there's no interruption. We have become slaves to the "ding." Realize that most likely the text is not an emergency and focus your attention on the person you are talking with. Relationships can only grow stronger when given the attention they deserve.
2. Look someone in the eyes. Have you ever been in a conversation with someone who keeps looking around while you're talking? It can make you feel like they have better things to do and it doesn't feel good. Take the time to really look at the person so that they know you care and what they have to say is important.
3. Don't ...I know what you're going to say...interrupt. We live in a world where everyone seems to be in a hurry. It's easy to want to rush through a conversation. Oh gosh! I've got to be somewhere in 5 minutes! How can I get this conversation over with now!?! Sometimes you may finish someone else's sentence or try to problem solve for them in order to get the conversation over with quicker. Instead allow the other person to speak, without interruption, so that they can communicate whatever is on their heart/mind. Know that you don't have to "fix" everything. And realize that in finishing someone else's sentence, that takes away their voice...both literally and metaphorically.
4. Most importantly, to be a good listener, give someone your time. This is kind of connected to number three, but it is worth mentioning on it's own. One of the most precious and valuable things you can give to someone is your time. If someone you know wants to have an important conversation or just simply connect through talking, carve out time in your day to devote only to him or her. Make plans so that there are no interruptions...well, that may not be realistic, but explain to those who interrupt that you are busy right now and you will get back with them later.
And when you do, give THEM your undivided attention. Look THEM in the eyes. Let THEM finish their sentences. And give THEM your time.