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How to Be an Exceptionally Good Listener

https://nickwignall.com/good-listener/

nickwignall.com

How to Be an Exceptionally Good Listener
5 practical tips from a professional psychologist for improving any relationship in your life by learning to become a better listener.

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The ability to be a good listener

The ability to be a good listener

The idea of being a good listener is almost a cliche. Yet, most of us are terrible at it.

Becoming a good listener is not that difficult if you know where to start and are willing to practice. If cultivated, the quality of your most important relationships will dramatically improve.

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Focus on the person, not the problem

Our ability to solve problems is helpful in life, but it is the wrong thing to do in situations when people simply want to be heard, understood, and feel connected.

When someone is scared, angry, depressed, or just upset, they don't want to feel like something is wrong with them. When you give unsolicited advice to someone who is struggling, you make them feel like a problem. Give advice when someone asks for it, otherwise, hold off on your wisdom and instead focus on being present.

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Unsing open-ended questions

Being a good listener is not about getting the facts about what made them upset. It is to be supportive, offer encouragement, and empathize.
Ask open-ended questions to communicate that you're interested in them. Avoid questions beginning with 'Why' and use 'What' or 'How' instead. Generic open-ended questions that work well are:

  • What was that like for you?
  • Can you tell me more about that?
  • How did you feel about that?
  • What was going through your mind?

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Reflect on what you’re hearing

Paraphrase what the person has said back to you.

When we reflect back what another person is saying, we are making them feel heard and understood. When people feel genuinely heard, they feel connected.

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Validate the emotions of the other person

When we acknowledge and validate how someone feels, we send them the message that we understand them on a deeper level.

When we validate another person's emotion by naming it and acknowledging that we understand it, we give the other person the right to feel the way they do without shame or fear.

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Validate your own emotions

Defensiveness sabotages your ability to be a good listener. People become defensive when they feel threatened in a relationship.

The best way to avoid defensiveness and continue to listen well, even when you're upset, is to practice validating your own emotions. Say to yourself that it is okay that you feel angry or hurt. But, you get to decide how to act moving forward.

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Anger and Aggression

  • Anger: An emotion felt when we believe we have been wronged.
  • Aggression: is an act of expression of the anger, by our words our actions. Aggressio...

Validation and Boundaries

  • We can try and validate the anger felt by an individual by making them know that their anger is maybe justified while putting firm but respectful boundaries on their aggression.
  • We then need to be clear about what type of aggression we are willing to tolerate, setting boundaries on the unacceptable.
  • We may have to put our foot down and be ready to leave the conversation or escalate the issue, without falling into the trap of guilt and emotion.
  • If possible, we need to restart the conversation when things have cooled down, and diffuse the issue in a calm way.

Avoiding Speculative Self-Talk

Unchecked self-talk can easily turn into self-delusion. The stories we create almost always make you look like the good guy and cannot be termed as objective.

  • The way to get out of this speculative self-delusion is to avoid any speculation about other people's anger, at least initially.
  • Make sure to note down the facts of the situation. This can make the story less according to your gut instinct, and more towards the objective reality.

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Avoiding talking about your feelings

Avoiding talking about your feelings

People with very low emotional intelligence will refuse to talk about their feelings because they aren't good at it. They may use vague language to describe how they feel, such as "I'm...

Judging your own feelings

Emotions like fear or sadness feel bad. People with low emotional intelligence criticize themselves, thinking it is wrong to feel afraid. Or shameful to feel sad.

People with high emotional intelligence understand that if something feels bad doesn't mean it is bad. They treat themselves with compassion and kindness when they feel this way.

Trying to control your emotions

People with low emotional intelligence think they have to solve difficult emotions. They try to get rid of any painful feelings.

Emotionally intelligent people see emotions as messengers. They validate them even if they don't like the content of the message.

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence (EQ or EI) can be defined as the ability to understand, manage, and effectively express one's own feelings, as well as engage and navigate successfully with those of oth...

Reduce Negative Emotions

... so they don't overwhelm you and affect your judgment. 

In order to change the way you feel about a situation, you must first change the way you think about it. 

Increased fear of rejection: “I’m applying for my dream job. I’ll be devastated if they don’t hire me.”
Decreased fear of rejection: “I’m applying for three exciting positions. If one doesn’t pan out, there are two more I’m well qualified for.”

Stay Cool and Manage Stress

How we handle stressful situations can make the difference between being assertive versus reactive, and poised versus frazzled. When under pressure, the most important thing to keep in mind is to keep our cool. 

  • If you feel nervous and anxious, put cold water on your face and get some fresh air. 
  • If you feel fearful, depressed, or discouraged, try intense aerobic exercises. Energize yourself.