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No matter your perspective, effective communication is one of the best tools to resolve disagreements/conflicts occurring in our everyday lives. The first step to effective communication is sharpening active listening skills.

We are conditioned to respond with verbal and nonverbal cues to validate and assure those speaking. But we have to ask ourselves, “Are we really hearing the person who is speaking?”

To answer this question, we’re sharing 5 tips to become a more engaged listener. These strategies support improved effective communication in your relationships:

  1. Self-Check/Self-Reflect
    Before engaging, consider what you are feeling and what you need at that moment. Perhaps you need some quiet time after a long day of work so you can be fully present for the conversation. Immediately entering into a discussion when you are not ready can lead to a misunderstanding.

    If you are initiating, ask the person if they are ready to have a conversation. This allows the person the chance to mentally prepare and be present.

  1. Create a Listening Environment Free of Distractions
    Find a quiet, private, distraction-free place to talk. This includes turning off electronics and finding space away from others if possible. Removing distractions allows communication to occur without interruptions, leading to the possibility of greater understanding.

    Focusing on one topic at a time will also avoid branching, or pulling in an overwhelming number of topics in the same conversation. Bringing up everything in one conversation encourages confrontation and makes it harder to achieve true understanding. When appropriate, an agreed-upon agenda may help organize the conversation.

  1. Seek to Understand
    Listening to understand versus to be understood helps the listener stay present in the conversation. Focusing on the facts presented and the speaker’s feelings, allows for greater understanding of the message. Resist the urge to interrupt in order to truly focus on what the speaker is saying. This helps you, the listener, become a partner in the conversation.
  1. Effectively Communicate Your Feelings
    How you communicate your feelings will likely have an impact on the listener. The goal is to help the listener understand your feelings, not to become defensive or tune you out. Rather than, “you are so disrespectful,” try, “I felt hurt by something you said last week.”
  1. Reschedule the Conversation
    Maybe you are ready to have the conversation, but the timing is off. Or you engage in the conversation and recognize you cannot continue at that moment. That is ok! Being able to give your undivided attention helps in reaching mutual understanding. Requesting to reschedule can help a future conversation go more smoothly.

For more insight on effectively communicating, or to learn more about how we at Focused Solutions can help you navigate life’s unique challenges together, contact us today.