6 Ways to Be a Better Listener

As we find ourselves spending more time with our families, meaningful conversation is one of our most powerful tools for maintaining household harmony. When having a conversation, you might be surprised to find that it’s listening, not talking, that’s the key to good conversation. Becoming a better listener isn’t hard at all—it just takes a little practice.

1. Eliminate distractions.

Active listening takes concentration. Turn off your cell phone, turn off the TV and don’t split your attention—it shows that you’re uninterested.

2. Be aware of your body language.

Uncross your arms, make eye contact. Physically engage. Your body language has a lot to say about how interested you really are.

3. Stay in the moment.

Don’t think about your response as the other person is talking. Slow down. Reflect on—don’t react to—what they’re saying.

3. Don't interrupt.

Listening involves understanding the other person’s message, not trying to immediately propose solutions. Wait until they’re done to ask questions.

5. Feel free to paraphrase.

Summarizing the key points is a good way to allow the other person to clarify anything you may have misunderstood.

6. Ask open-ended questions.

Don't ask "yes" or "no" questions, because they can bring the conversation to a half. Expand the discussion with "how" or "why?" questions.