It is almost impossible to talk and listen effectively at the same time. When we open our mouths to talk, our ears tend to close. Ask any teacher and they will tell you.
Prepare yourself to listen.
Focus on the message and/or topic being communicated to you. Focus on the speaker. Take a deep breath, and be present in the moment
Make the sender/speaker the focus.
Make eye contact,but don’t stare. Show you are listening and understanding. Put the needs and concerns of the speaker first.
Put your phone down. Stop fidgeting. This includes everything from clicking a pen to picking your nails. Unnecessary movements cause distractions to yourself and others and can also send messages of boredom and inattention to the speaker.
Try to understand the point of view being given without judgment. You don’t need to agree, however understanding the point of view will help you construct a respectful and educated response. By having an open mind, we can more fully empathize with the speaker
Wait for the speaker to finish their message. People take their own time and way to get a message across. Give them that time and space. Don’t interrupt or finish their sentences.
Avoid personal prejudice.
Do the best you can to not be judgmental. Everyone is different in how they speak, including voice inflections, dialects and mannerisms. Focus on the message being sent, not critiquing its delivery or style.
Listen to the tone.
Speakers communicate with volume, tone and pitch. These delivery methods influence the message being sent and can sometimes help you to further understand someone’s point. Make sure you are being attentive to how the message is being communicated without being critical of it.
Listen to ideas not just words.
Listen to the whole idea, not just a bit here and there. Eliminating distractions is one strategy that will allow you to engage fully in the ongoing communication. With proper concentration and focus, these concepts will improve.
Pay attention to nonverbal cues.
As I mentioned before, 80% of communication is nonverbal. Use your other senses, smell, sight, in some cases touch and even taste. We don’t only receive information with our ears!
If these skills are utilized on a regular basis, your listening skills and abilities can improve.