The 5 Habits of Exceptionally Good Listeners

1. Focus on the person, not the problem.
Most of us are problem solvers at heart. However, when a person has a problem, you must focus on them personally, not on their problem. They are asking you to listen.
2. Ask open-ended questions.
Conversations are about more than information exchange. They’re about connection.
Instead of: Why are you upset? Try: How are you feeling?
Instead of: Was work stressful again? Try: How was work?
Instead of: Did your mom criticize you again? Try: What happened with your conversation with your mom?
When in doubt, here are a few generic open-ended questions:
– What was that like for you?
– Can you tell me more about that?
– How did you feel about that?
– How are you feeling right now?
– What was going through your mind?
Tip: Avoid WHY? Judgemental. Rather ask WHAT or HOW which are more neutral.
3. Reflect back what you’re hearing.
E.G. – It sounds like you were caught off guard.
– It seems like you were really over-whelmed.
– It sounds like you’re saying I don’t listen very well.
Reflection helps the person feel like we’re listening carefully.
4. Validate their emotions.
It means showing someone else that their emotions are valid.
– It sounds like you were really disappointed in Tony and your coworkers.
– I can see how that really made you sad and angry.
– Yeah, I can see why you’re pretty angry with me for not listening better.
5. Validate Your Own Emotions.
Like all animals, when we feel attacked, we tend to either fight back or run away – sometimes physically, but often mentally. And while defensiveness is initially set off by fear, it quickly morphs into all sorts of difficult feelings such as anger, resentment, guilt, shame, etc.
When you validate your emotions, you’ll end up being able to choose how you respond to the situation.

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