One trait that most men value highly in a woman is her ability to listen well and remain interested in what they have to say. Listening may be the most subtle, yet effective way of showing sincere appreciation for another person.
With the proper awareness and practice, we can all become better listeners, show more appreciation, and make deeper connections with other people. To help you make immediate progress in this area, here are some simple guidelines to follow:
o Give the gift of sincere listening.
Sometimes it’s comforting for a speaker to share their emotional load with another person. When someone is there to listen, it fills that person’s human need to be understood. Certainly, there are times when we talk about things that are not that interesting to someone else. However, their willingness to absorb our thoughts, ideas, and emotions can be both soothing and validating. Listening is seen as a true sign of caring, friendship, and even love.
o Set your intention on paying full attention.
Some people get easily distracted when another person is speaking. But if you become distracted, the speaker won’t feel that you value what they have to say. If you want to become an outstanding listener, the first order of business is to become determined to develop the habit of giving speakers your full, undivided attention. You can accomplish this by: (1) looking them directly in the eye as they are talking, (2) keeping your body still and not fidgeting, (3) turning your body towards them instead of away, and (4) keeping quiet until they are finished completing their thoughts.
o Provide positive nonverbal feedback.
Show you are listening attentively by offering feedback as if that person was the only one left on this earth. You can do this by: (1) nodding your head in agreement, (2) leaning closer to the one who is speaking, (3) smiling with delight or approval, and (4) maintaining eye contact throughout the conversation. As any person with a hearing disability can verify, listening is not always an auditory communication.
o Try not to interrupt while he’s speaking.
When you interrupt someone while they’re talking, you are often trying to finish their sentences to speed up their story. But mostly you’re in your own head thinking about what you want to talk about instead of listening. After a while, the speaker becomes annoyed by your interruptions. In order to make a speaker feel appreciated, it is important to be more patient and disciplined while listening. If necessary, ask if you can make a brief comment on their topic before letting them continue.
o Help the talker get into their flow.
When I worked as a public speaking coach years ago, one of my primary tasks was to get people to talk about subjects that they were eager to discuss. I’d get things rolling by prompting with, “So John, tell us what happened to you the other day.” When the speaker got stuck, I’d interject, “So what happened next?” By doing this, I was able to help the talker get into a flow. I only interrupted to get them back on track or to suggest that they elaborate on their story. If you can help other people get “in the flow” when they speak, they’ll have a special appreciation for you.
o Seek first to understand others instead of wanting yourself to be understood.
Most people wish others would understand them, but more rarely do we ever think about trying to understand the other person. But by turning this habit around in conversations and understanding the other person first, we can learn what is important to them early in the game. This adjustment will naturally result in conversations that are tailored to the other person’s liking, and it allows for a better exchange of ideas. By shifting the focus more on the other person, we learn more about them while helping them feel more appreciated. The other person will also perceive you as being a more caring and less self-centered individual.
o Repeat their words back to yourself.
A simple way to prevent yourself from filtering out what another person is saying is to repeat it in your mind while they talk. Try it! I think you’ll find that this simple technique will keep your mind from wandering off. It will also help your concentration and improve your recall of what is being said.
o Don’t jump to conclusions!
In resolving conflicts, make sure that you hear a person out completely. Come to see their side of the story, and find out precisely what their true intentions were. That way, you can avoid the common mistake of jumping to conclusions by listening to only the early part. When you gather all the information from them, you’ll be more likely to identify with the reasoning or purpose in the other person’s behavior.
o Ask empowering questions.
By listening more closely, you’ll be able to ask the right kind of questions. Good questions either get the speaker to elaborate more fully or steer them in a more productive direction. Helpful queries include: “What made you feel really proud about that?” and “What did you enjoy the most about what happened then?” You can also empower the speaker by directing them toward subjects associated with positive emotions rather than negative ones. Instead of asking questions just for your own benefit, do so with the added intent of steering the speaker toward feeling better about themselves.
By mastering these simple listening techniques with practice and purpose, a smart woman can distinguish herself. Men you date will come to think of you as someone they can enjoy spending quality time with while doing the most basic activity — having a one-on-one casual conversation.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Dating sucks when people start avoiding you because you’ve gained a reputation for being a terrible audience. But dating rocks when others feel understood and appreciated by the simple way that you listen to them.