Listening Techniques

Two listening techniques stand out to me as being very important.The first one is eye contact. If you are physically present with the person, it helps to look the person in the eyes.Looking people in the eyes while concentrating on what they’re saying has been an important revelation for me as I seek to listen to others.

For example, when I’m leading a cell group and someone asks a question, it’s easy to get distracted by the “other voices”  in the room (e.g., John’s yawning, Mary’s coughing, the car passing by outside, etc.).  Looking the cell member in the eyes, helps me to lock into what he or she is saying.

Making comfortable eye contact can help you to concentrate. It steers all the voices in your head directly to the person at hand. It helps you to give yourself to the needs of the person, rather than trying to deal with all the competing noises.

Granted there’s a fine line between looking someone in the eyes and staring. Staring makes the person feel uncomfortable and is not helpful. Slight glances away can break you free from the staring mode while honing in on every detail of the conversation.

The second tip is listening for the unspoken words. Often, the unspoken words are more important than the spoken ones. Yet to hear the unspoken words, It’s important to read between the lines. Experts vary on how much of the total communication package is non-verbal, but estimates range from 60% to 90%. They all agree on one thing: the vast majority of the communication experience is non-verbal. Reading the body language and voice inflection is essential in understanding what the person is truly saying. 

Which of these two techniques have helped you the most?


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