“Paradoxically, in our age of constant communication, the raw material of conversation has actually disappeared: listening. Genuine, real listening is a rare commodity and a great gift, because you are giving to the person you are listening to your most valuable asset: your attention.
Here are a few suggestions of how to do it right, based on the communication technique ‘active listening’ devised by Carl Rogers and Richard Farson in 1957.
- Listen, don’t talk. Resist talking about yourself. If they are talking about troubles they are having at work, don’t tell them you hate your job. It’s never the same. All experiences are individual. And, more importantly, it’s not about you.
- Don’t finish the other person’s… Some people have a tendency of impatiently finishing the sentence or thought of the person they are talking to. Although very slow thinking and talking can be irritating, don’t interrupt, even if you think it might show empathy.
- Your body language says a lot. Look the other person in the eye – but don’t stare. Nod – but only if you want to agree with what they are saying or show that you have understood something important.
- Notice the little things. Listen out for details in what they are saying and pick up on these later. This makes it easier to ask questions (‘You mentioned that you spent a lot of time as a child at your grandmother’s – what kind of relationship did you have with her?’). And it lets the other person know that you were really listening.
- Be a friend, not a judge. Resist the impulse of giving the other person advice – unless of course they specifically ask for it. Instead, take the conversation back to an exciting, important part of the story (p. 86-88).”
From: Krogerus, M., & Tschappeler, R. (2018). Translated by: Piening, J., & Jones, L. The communication book: 44 ideas for better conversations every day. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.