How to Better Your Communication Through Active Listening
Communicating is part of our everyday life, but do you often wonder whether others think you communicate well with them? Do you ever analyze someone else while they are communicating with you?
These are two questions that are more common than you think. Good communication is key to just about every relationship and interaction you will have in your life and can even resolve just about any conflict. We’re about to dive into some great insight to better your communication as well as improve your body language. Because even if you don’t know it, your body language says more than you think!
Put Yourself in the Other Persons Shoes
Great communication starts with the consistent ability to empathize with others.
Whenever you’re practicing empathy, you must remember empathy versus sympathy. Sympathy is when you feel bad for somebody after something happens, empathy is when you feel bad for somebody before something happens.
When it comes to communication, it’s good to listen and to make sure that you are focusing on what they are really trying to convey, send out, and receive. Be careful to not interpret it with your own assumptions. If you really use active listening, you’re repeating back to that person, “Now I hear you saying this, right?” And depending on if they’re a visual learner or an auditory learner, “I see that you’re saying this, this is how I’m taking that, is that what you mean?” Give them the option and the opportunity to clarify anything, so there is no miscommunication.
An average communicator will just say, “Yes, yes” and then insert in their own assumptions. Or in the world we live in today, they’ll be hunched over their phone while we’re talking. Which we would then interpret that body language as they are not interested in what we have to say.
There are three great ways you can improve your active listening. You can start practicing some of these today!
3 Ways of Active Listening You Can Try Today
1. Backtrack framing
In essence, backtrack framing is when you are saying back to them what they just relayed to you, but you are reversing the process. For example, if someone were to say, “I don’t like when he doesn’t help me with the dishes, even though I make it known I’d like some help. It makes me feel like he doesn’t care that I’m doing all of the work.” You would respond with, “So you feel like he doesn’t care if you do all the work yourself because he doesn’t help you with the dishes, when it’s apparent you want help”. Basically, you are repeating what they said, just reversed. This helps the person to feel validated in what they are feeling and expressing to you.
2. Mirror Matching
This is one of the most commonly used techniques in active listening. Say you were speaking with a friend, and you noticed that they had placed their hands behind their head in a relaxed state while crossing their right leg over their left knee. What you would do to mirror match them, is you would place your hands behind your head as well. However, you would cross your left leg over your right knee. So, it’s as if you were looking at them in a mirror. This is in no way to mock or mimic them, you are trying to get them to see that you are both the same. It is showing there is a like-like chemistry between the two of you to create a safe space of communication.
This technique may not be as familiar to you. But if you’re trying to resolve conflict with someone, this is the one! Insularity is getting the other person to see that you’re on the same team. Position yourself so you are shoulder to shoulder, that way you’re both facing out, so that if there were an issue, you could gesture to an inanimate object while saying, “Here’s the problem. How can we solve it together?” Make sure to use the back of your hand while gesturing. The front of your hand is a push away, the back of your hand is more of a loving technique. This helps you to convey that your issue is not a people problem, rather there’s another issue at hand while this person is your ally.
Body language makes up 93% of communication, while dialogue makes up the other 7%. That goes to show how you respond physically to those around you makes a greater impact than what you actually say. Be aware of those little physical kinesthetic cues! They could make all the difference.
The content in this blog post was transcribed and edited from one of our exclusive interview series podcasts with Achieve Today Coach, Jed Pfaff. If you’d like to see the full 30-minute interview where Jed talks about body language, communication, and active listening; click here to watch the YouTube video
If you’d like to listen to the podcast, click here.