What skills/characteristics do you actually need to listen well?
I’m no expert, but here are some thoughts. 1. Patiences 2. Humility 3. Empathy 4. Attention and focus 5. Memory
I’ve found the temptation to cut someone off is high, especially when someone is taking a while to get things off their chest. But listening effectively can’t be hurried. The only cure is patience which gets easier the more it’s practiced.
Real listening is about the other person and not ourselves. It involves not seeking our own advancement directly through getting our way or building social capital. If we really listen, both of those are more likely but not guaranteed. By directly seeking them we impede those goals and the process of listening.
It’s important to place ourselves in the other person’s position. It requires us to see the world from their perspective. Listening is not just about finding out the facts of a situation, but finding out the feelings too. They can be more important.
Attention and Focus
It can get tiring when listening. For some of us our minds start to wonder (raises hand) or we see an association and get excited to talk about it (raises hand higher) but thinking about these things can prevent focusing on the matter at hand. Sometimes the person is just about to mention that same thing but we cut them off. Other times they are about to bring up something even more important. Even when what we would offer is valuable, it is almost always better to wait. I’ve found that jotting down the thought in a small notebook can help let that distraction pass and help me to focus properly.
If someone else is talking for a long time (without your interruptions) it can be tricky to remember all the key details. This is where repeating and rephrasing come in. Doing so helps aid memory and make sure you haven’t missed a key detail. If you repeat what was said but leave out a detail as you don’t remember it, the speaker can correct you.
There are probably more skills that are required to listen effectively and perhaps this is more a list of my deficiencies than the difficulties we all face. So I welcome any insights you have.