Even the extroverted will have trouble with relationships if listening is an issue. Listening skills go hand-in-hand with contact. No one wants to talk or listen all the time; understanding one skill is equally as important as the other. Being a good listener is more than just hearing. It means being aware and accepting of the other person’s emotions. However, there is a line between being sympathetic and too empathetic. Empathy isn’t a bad thing, but it’s important to separate out your feelings. It’s easy to take on the emotions of others you care about in stressful situations, but this is not helpful to anyone. While supporting a friend through a divorce is healthy, if you take on your friend’s emotions, both of you are drained and stressed, which doesn’t help anyone.
Sometimes it’s difficult to understand why a person feels a particular way. The key is to just accept their feelings. Don’t judge them or compare their reaction to how you think you would feel. Sometimes if you are confused about a friend’s reactions, try paraphrasing what they said back. This will help both of you understand what was said and if that’s what was meant. Another way to improve your listening skills is to keep an eye on body language. Watch how people interact with each other. Most people have clear signals for how they’re feeling.
- Do you think you are a good listener? Why or why not?
- Are there ways you can improve your listening skills?