Want to bring Joy to others at Christmas? Be a great listener!

Huh? How does this work? Here’s the connection. Christmas is a time for giving. Not buying presents but giving of yourself. Christmas is a time to give of your energy and time, not just material things.  Giving of yourself includes listening. Not talking. Just listening.

We’ve all experienced an amazing person at some point in our lives that makes you feel just great. Most likely, they’ve left an indelible impression. This is the person that makes you feel like you’re the only person in the room. They can connect, they can empathize, reflect on your words and thoughtfully respond. People always leave them feeling important and special.

So what exactly is this person’s magic? Good chance their magic is a honed skill. They’re excellent listeners. You might say, “I listen too”…but do you? Do you interrupt? Does your mind wander? During and after the conversation can you remember details they shared?

Do you know what are the secrets of a great listener?

In this blog I’ll give you some tips that can transform your conversational skills and perhaps how you relate to people in general.

There are passive listeners and active listeners. Here’s the difference between the two…

Passive listeners often are thinking about what they’re going to say as you’re talking. They are not interested in what you have to say. They are not focused on your words. Passive listeners often “overtalk”. Overtalking is talking when they talk while you’re still speaking. Interrupting is one form of overtalking. Overtalking says to the speaker, “I don’t care about what you have to say”. Overtalking communicates that they feel they are most important. Overtalking is invalidating and annoying.

Active listeners are the ones with the magic formula. They possess skills that they’ve polished over and over like a precious stone. It’s taken time for them to develop these skills. You can develop them too!

Here are some things that Active Listeners do to make others feel valued and understood.

1. They focus on you. Not on the person behind you. Not on the words they’ll speak when you finish your thoughts. They focus on your words.

2. They make great eye contact. This behavior is a result of their desire to focus on you.

3. They help you unpack ideas and the flow of events. They ask specific questions regarding the content of your words. This communicate interest and a desire to completely understand what you’re saying.

4. If they time their words prematurely so they overtalk, they do three things: First they apologize, secondly, they stop talking and last,  they refocus on you until you’re finished speaking.

5. Body language is important. Active listeners lean in slightly, angle their bodies to be square with yours.

6. Short verbalizations, such as: “yes”, uh huh, “I know what you’re saying”, I hear you, etc. let the speaker know that the listener is with them.

7. They paraphrase what you say to make sure they understood you.

ACTIVE LISTENERS make people feel great. They develop closer bonds with more people.

When you leave a conversation with a good listener, you leave feel good. You feel understood, important and interesting.

What a wonderful gift to give someone at Christmas. Leave someone feeling understood, important and interesting. This gift of your time and interest will be a pleasant memory for another that lasts for years to come.

IMMEDIATE BENEFITS OF BEING A GOOD LISTENER

5 immediate tangible benefits from listening well at work:

1. Mutual trust: Authentic listening generates respect and trust between talker and listener. Employees will naturally respond better to managers who they think are listening intently to their needs.

2. Productivity: Problems are solved faster if people are encouraged to explain problems and be given the freedom to work though solutions out loud before being told what to do.

3. Cooler heads prevail: Listening intently helps both sides to stay cool — and helps them cool off — when they are dealing with a crisis or discussing a sensitive issue.

4. Boosts confidence: Great listeners tend to have better self-esteem and self-image because, in their listening, they work toward establishing positive relationships.

5. Fewer mistakes: Good listening leads to more accuracy in retaining information. You’ll remember important facts later on, minimizing the risk of miscommunication and making mistakes.

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