How to be a Better Listener When It’s Hard to do

Fortune Cookie Life Lesson # 32
Nature gave us one tongue and two ears so we could hear twice as much as we speak.

How well do I listen instead of letting things come right out of my mouth? A long time ago this was extremely hard for me to do. I usually never heard what was being said and was always the one talking. I am more aware of my lack of communicating back then and have worked hard to try and fix this little indiscretion. However, this is not an easy task and takes some dangerous practice and in my case patience along the way. These five things helped me become a better listener and improved the way I communicate effectively with others.

1. I listen so that I can learn.
If we are always talking are we anything? To be able to learn efficiently you need to be able to listen to what is said. I started to recognize this and began practicing this in conversations, and I could not believe all the exciting things I learned about other people around me. I am sure that I would not have known if I was the only one getting a word in that conversation.

2. Ask questions
I never used to ask questions. I always thought that asking questions was a weakness and many times I either pretended to know what was talked about or would take over the conversation. Pretending to know what is going on absolutely does not work, and more than likely you will end up looking ridiculous. Asking questions shows a person that you are interested in what is said and not only that you will learn something that you did not know before and that is ok.

3. Make eye contact
If you want to show someone your undivided attention make eye contact with them. Eye contact was also a hard one for me to do because I was shyer and for some reason, eye contact was hard for me. Doing this makes the conversation more enjoyable and exciting. You are taking the time to acknowledge what is said and making eye contact shows that you are genuinely interested in the discussion.

4. Don’t Interrupt the other person talking.
Interrupting conversations was something that I always did, and I honestly did not understand how annoying it was until I started focusing on changing the way I listen. Not only is this rude but it shows that you are not valuing the other person in the conversation. Being able to stop interruptions in conversations is genuinely a hard habit to break and if you do accidentally innterupt make sure to apologize.

Why is it a good idea to be a good listener?

1. Listening can be a confidence booster.
People love a good listener merely because they are hard to find and being able to do this will make you certainly feel right about having this talent.

2. Acceptance
When you listen, you are accepting the person that is involving you in the conversation. Not only are you receiving them they are also accepting you by telling you what they think is essential.

3. Connection
As humans, we need relationships and listening can create a deep connection.

So the next time you are finding yourself in a conversation take a back seat and listen to what is said. Take time to listen, and you will undoubtedly learn something new about that person. When you get a chance to ask a few questions about what is being discussed make sure to keep good eye contact so that the speaker knows that you are engaged. Last but not least remember not to interrupt the one that is speaking so that you can have the opportunity to listen to all that is being said. Listening is a talent that few have and that many want to have around them.

How to Use Charm to Benefit You at Your Next Party

Be a master of the social game.

Fortune Cookie Life Lesson #21

You will always possess a charm and sense of humor that attracts others.

Do charming people have more carefree times in social settings? Thinking about this question gets me thinking how I socialize in specific environments. For the most part, I feel that I am warm and comfortable to communicate with and don’t see myself struggling in this area. I was a personal trainer for nine years and gave seminars where I needed to speak to an audience, and when I first started I was shy and many times would get the butterfly feeling in the pit of my gut before I was to speak. As the years gone by and I kept giving seminars, teaching classes, and working with new people these insecurities disappeared. The one talent I do wish I had more of was that of being charming. What is so wonderful about being charming? I feel that being lovely with those around us can benefit us much especially when it comes to critical social settings such as business meetings. Being charming can bring positive attention to you. This behavior can help make connections that may not have been made otherwise, and will even build one’s self-confidence. Sometimes when I try, I can be a bit socially awkward, and this is something that I know I could benefit from doing in social settings. Here are four ways that I plan on becoming more charming to those around me.

1. Stepping Outside the Comfort Zone

Why must we always step out of the comfort zone to get anything done? If we are comfortable, we won’t try as hard to get what we want. People like to associate with others who think outside the box. Think about the times you have conversations and who you like to talk with, are they boring or are they interesting to you? What makes them that way? Being creative in your discussions brings a little spice of life to the party, and you will get more people interested. Think of fun and creative ways that you can communicate with those around you. If you are at an office party, don’t start the conversation off about work instead find some common interest outside of work to discuss. Talking about hiking on the weekends will be far more interesting than the spreadsheets you look at every day.

2. Listen

Please be a good listener. Listening to those around us can be a hard one to follow and if you are like me and always thinking about what to say next. I have had to practice this one in the last few years and can say that I am grasping at this concept. I never knew how annoying this could be to be in a conversation and not listen till I started catching myself in this dangerous behavior. You will make more friends by lending an ear instead of a mouth. People love those that listen and pay attention to what they are talking about. Many times people don’t listen, and it is scarce to find a good listener. Remember when in a conversation don’t keep thinking about what you are going to say next, you won’t be listening, and that can get you into trouble. Recieve their message in full so that you can give a response that is meaningful to another person.

3. Focus on the Emotions

Make sure to check those emotions at the door. Making sure my feelings didn’t get the best of me was the lesson I learned when I was a trainer. It doesn’t matter what people think of me I can’t be shy and nervous when I needed to be confident and motivating. I would have never kept a client being shy and timid. I had to suck it up buttercup and put on that confident face to get through many of my seminars and sessions. After they were done and I had positive feedback it gave me the confidence to do the next one and pretty soon I no longer needed to check my emotions at the door. Give yourself a break and relax. Being able to relax and not worry about what and how you are going to start a conversation makes communication with others so much more comfortable. Don’t be hard on yourself and have fun in whatever setting you are involved with. If you are fumbling for your words and awkward, this will be a no-win situation for you, and you will inevitably crash and burn.

charm

4. Body Language Says More than you Think

Body language says a lot in a conversation and how you hold yourself will tell others quite a bit about you, and you want to make a good impression. If you stand tall, you are showing confidence. When we stand slouched and hunched over, we may give off the idea there is a weakness. Giving eye contact shows that you are listening and interested in what the other person is saying. Often matching the way others in the conversation are holding their body language will make you and them comfortable.

Everyone can have a certain amount of charm, and it takes a little practice to master the skill. Make sure to get outside of your box and be creative when engaging in a social conversation. Listening to those around us and paying attention to what is being said will make us valuable to those that are telling the story. Make sure to keep those emotions where they need to be and that it is better to be relaxed and confident then it is to be awkward and nervous. Take your body language and make it work for any social situation. Practicing these qualities will bring us closer to being the charming individuals we have always wanted to be.