Most people assume they are good listeners. They probably don't give listening much thought at all. It just seems natural to listen, doesn't it?
Unfortunately, effective listening is rare. That's why there is so much miscommunication in the world. It's why incorrect assumptions are made. It causes fights, conflict, and anger. If you think you're a good listener, it's easy to tell if you're right.
If you do any of the following, you might not be listening as well as you could be:
1. You formulate your response while the other person is talking. It's impossible to truly listen to what is being said if you are doing that. You'll miss vital details, and you won't be in tune to the other person's verbal cues. If you find yourself thinking while someone else is talking, shift your focus to the speaker. Don't worry about what you'll say next. Simply listen. You'll have plenty of time to think and decide what to say when the other person is finished.
2. You interrupt. If you finish other people's sentences or jut in to share your own stories, you can't possibly be listening. Interrupting is frustrating to the other person, and that person will stop truly sharing. It sends the message that your ideas are more important. Instead, bite your tongue. Wait until the other person is totally finished speaking before you say anything. You will have plenty of time to share your thoughts when the other person is finished.
3. Your cell phone is your priority. For the love of God, put down that darn phone. Nothing shows disrespect quite like staring at a screen while someone is talking to you. Shut off the ringer, and refuse to look at it. Even checking a message or answering a text is a clear indicator that you are not truly listening to the other person. No one can multi-task like that, and it's rude anyway. Your phone can wait.
If any of those ring true for you, it's never to late to change your habits and hone your listening skills. Pay attention to it and make necessary changes. It's worth it because effective listening shows you care and ensures that you'll truly hear other people.