Better Listening

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A. "Take These 13 Actionable Steps to Become a Better Active Listener" (post) "explain[s] some actionable steps [instructors] can take to improve their active listening abilities, both in and out of the [classroom]."

1. "[A]ctive listening ... is truly hearing, processing and addressing what another person is telling you."

  • It "can change how your [class] sees you as well as help you to learn from their viewpoints."

2. See also

B. 13 Strategies

1. "Build Micro-Habits That Support Being Present"

  • "[P]u[t] your phone away."
  • "[M]ak[e] eye contact."
  • "[M]ak[e] the conversation about the other person and not you by asking 'why' questions."
  • "[H]ol[d] space for them to talk."
  • "[Be] curious about what is being signaled but not spoken in the communication." 

2. "Take A Breath"

  • "[T]ak[e] one long breath prior to responding ... [to]  shift your answer and convey to your speaker that you were listening to them rather than preparing your response instead."
  • "The long breath will also allow just a small pause to consider what you say before you speak." 

3. "Ask Two Follow-Up Questions Before Adding Your Thoughts"

  • "This practice takes you out of autopilot and requires paying attention in order to formulate relevant questions and reply in a meaningful way."

4. "Use Simple Body Language"

  • "[A] head nod or 'uh-huh' and eye contact will encourage the other person to continue speaking and show you are listening."
  • "Ask questions for clarification and then recap what you heard by paraphrasing to show that you understand what’s being said."
  • "[I]t doesn’t mean you are agreeing, but that you are actively listening." 

5. "Compartmentalize"

  • "[B]e able to hit pause completely on anything at any time."
  • "This ... clear[s] our heads and hearts and [let's us] be fully present and ready to listen to others." 

6. "Give Your Audience Your Entire Attention"

  • "[L]isten without judging them or developing a response before they are finished speaking."
  • "Pay attention to body language as well as the words that are being spoken."
  • "Turn to face the speaker and make eye contact." 

7. "Practice Curiosity, Compassion, And The Suspension Of Judgment"

  • "[P]ractice a 'them' orientation."
  • "[U]nderstand others’ viewpoints and perspectives ... stop being critically judgmental and become compassionately curious." 

8. "Connect Your Conversations To Previous Ones"

  • "Start conversations by asking a question about something discussed previously."
  • "This ... sends a message that you were invested in the former conversation and thought it meaningful enough to follow up." 

9. "Practice Appreciation And Acceptance"

  • "People ... feel heard when they know you appreciate and accept their point of view." 
  • "That doesn't mean you have to agree with it." 

10. "Become A Parrot"

  • "[P]eople want to know that they've been understood from their perspective."
  • "[S]ay, 'Okay, let me know if I understood correctly. I believe you said X, Y, Z. Is that correct?'" 

11. "Focus On The Four Whats"

  • "What is important to this person?"
  • "What is something I would like more clarity around?"
  • "What does this person need?"
  • "What is our mutual goal here?" 

12. "Be Self-Aware And Adjust As Needed"

  • "Are you forming your response, thinking of something else, distracted by surroundings?"
  • "[C]lea[r] your mind when you listen, listen beyond the spoken word for inflection, tone, breath, pace, emotion."

13. "W.A.I.T." ("Why Am I Talking?")

  • "[F]ocus on listening to learn and to understand."
  • Talk "when you want to ask a question or seek deeper understanding. Otherwise, W.A.I.T!" 
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