The ability to listen actively is a vital aspect of communication and a valuable tool for improving our relationships with others. Active listening is the art of fully concentrating on what another person is saying, without being distracted or interrupting. It involves not only hearing the words being spoken, but also understanding their meaning, empathising with the speaker’s emotions and perspectives, and responding thoughtfully.
When we listen actively, we create a safe and supportive environment for the
speaker to share their thoughts and feelings. This can help to build trust and
deepen the connection between individuals, whether it be with a partner, friend, or colleague. Active listening can also help to avoid misunderstandings, miscommunications, and conflict, as it allows us to understand and appreciate the other person’s point of view. You could even consider it a key relationship survival tip.
In addition to enhancing our relationships, active listening can also improve our mental health and wellbeing. By listening mindfully and non-judgmentally, we can reduce stress and anxiety, increase our sense of empathy and compassion, and improve our ability to connect with others. Active listening can also help us to develop our own self-awareness, as we learn to recognise our own biases, assumptions, and preconceptions.
To practise active listening, there are several key skills to develop.
Firstly, we need to focus fully on the speaker, giving them our undivided
attention. This means putting aside any distractions, such as our phones or
other devices, and truly being present in the moment.
Secondly, we need to listen with an open mind and without judgement, setting aside our own biases and preconceptions. This involves being curious and asking questions, seeking to understand the speaker’s perspective fully.
Thirdly, we need to provide feedback and respond thoughtfully to the speaker. This means reflecting back on what we have heard and asking clarifying questions, as well as acknowledging the speaker’s emotions and validating their experience. By doing so, we show that we are actively engaged in the conversation and that we care about the speaker’s thoughts and feelings.
By ensuring that you are actively listening you can build strong relationships and improve your social wellbeing. Practising mindful listening can be a powerful tool for enhancing our relationships with others as well as promoting our own mental health and wellbeing. By developing our skills in active listening, we can create a more compassionate, empathetic, and understanding world, one conversation at a time.