Conflict is an inevitable part of our lives. Communication is an important aspect in resolving or managing conflict. Communication however has to be effective to produce results. An important aspect of communication is listening.
Effective listening skills, as mentioned previously, takes extra effort on the part of the listener to concentrate on what the speaker is saying.
For a successful Mediation to take place, the Mediator has to be a good listener. Parties to the Mediation also have to make extra effort to listen to one another.
In general, to have a fruitful communication, the speaker must communicate well and the listener must make an effort to focus on what the speaker is saying.
The following techniques can be used to improve listening and communication skills:
1. Concentrate on what others are saying.
It is important to actively concentrate on what others are saying so that effective communication can take place.
2. Send the non verbal message that you are listening.
This has a lot to do with body language.
Examples of non verbal messages that show you are are listening are;
making eye contact or nodding your head. These actions show the listener that you are listening.
3. Avoid early evaluations.
When the speaker is still talking, avoid assuming, guessing or making immediate judgements.
Early judgements or evaluations when the speaker is still talking usually result in the failure or inability to interprete correctly what the speaker was saying.
4. Avoid getting defensive.
Avoid taking what the other person is saying personally. Careful listening does not mean you always agree with the other person’s point of view. It means you are giving the other person a chance to express his or her opinion.
Too much elaborating, explaining or defending your opinion means you are trying to convince rather than listen.
5. Practice Paraphrasing.
Paraphrasing is a great technique to use for listening and problem solving. It is the art of putting into your own words what you think the speaker is saying and saying it back to the speaker. It is a more subtle way of saying what you think the speaker meant. It also clarifies for speaker that you accurately understand what he or she is trying to say and encourages further communication.
6. Listen and observe.
Listen to the words of the speaker and at the same time, observe for feelings and body language. The way a speaker is talking, behaving and tone of voice used are all part of his or her message.
If the speaker is talking with voice raised, he is most likely angry or frustrated. A person who looks down while speaking is probably shy or embarrassed.
7. Ask questions, ask questions.
This helps to clarify what the speaker is saying and obtain further information.
What are some of the ways you show a speaker that you are listening? Do you have certain techniques you use? If you are the speaker, how do you know if someone is listening to you ….or not?