How to Be an Exceptionally Good Listener - Deepstash
How to Be an Exceptionally Good Listener

How to Be an Exceptionally Good Listener

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How to Be an Exceptionally Good Listener

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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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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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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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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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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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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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