What is the best way to listen to someone?

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I read somewhere that Listening is ‘ Wanting to hear’ . I thought it to be the most succinct definition of listening.

So focus on finding a reason to ‘want to hear’ and you will automatically become a good listener. Notice how crowds throng to hear preachers, motivational speakers and stand up comedians. The motivation the audience has is ‘wanting to hear’.

To enhance your listening experience and to get the most out of what you hear, form the following habits:

Where ever possible, when listening make jottings of a sentence, an example, a thought that captures your imagination. You can always review it later and capture the essence of what you listened to. Be careful not to make elaborate notes or you will miss out on important points being made by the speaker.

Mentally summarize the key point that a speaker is making. Paying attention to the example or joke made by the speaker would be easier to recall and based on that you can often recall the point being illustrated.

Suspend judgment when listening. Do not let our bias, our prejudices and/ or our differences with the speaker clutter our listening. If we listen with intent only to rebutt, we would possibly miss out on listening to some valid arguments of the speaker. It is also possible that we hear only what we want to hear and not listen to the speaker from his/ her perspective.

Responding to the speaker is a motivator to listen more. Response comes in the form of eye contact (not staring), smiles (not smirk), non verbal clues (like a nod, clapping, thumbs up ). Remember that even if the speaker may be biased in his / her viewpoint being expressed, very rarely are they completely wrong.

Attend with a mindset of an explorer not that of a prisoner. If you attend a lecture because you need the attendance, you are prisoner of the lecture. However, if you tell yourself that with no choice left, let me explore what the lecture has to offer, you will definitely find something meaningful and relevant in the lecture.

Focus on ‘wanting to hear’ and then adopt the above habits and you will become a very good listener.

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