woman listening

Good listing skills are essential to excellent communication.

My Disciple Group coach told me long ago that people tend to open up around me. I took that as a huge compliment. As a group leader, one of the challenges is to facilitate engagement (on a deep, meaningful level). I attribute a lot of that success to being a good listener. How do you know if you are one? Here are 5 signs that you’re a good listener:

You Express Empathy

To express empathy is to put yourself info the other person’s position. It’s about caring.

Be genuine. There is nothing more detrimental to your communication with other people than them knowing that you’re not sincere to their feelings.We all have feelings. Even guys.

Empathy is not about you; it’s about the person on the other side of the table. If you think you’re good at communicating but don’t express empathy to the other person you’re wrong. Get this part right!

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Romans 12:15

Asking Follow-Up Questions

This is so important to engaging in the conversation. Ask follow up questions and stay on topic. Connect their answers to each other. One of my favorite strategies to understand people better is to link their responses to something they said earlier.

When someone says they’re a perfectionist, you might ask, “How does your perfectionism play out in your work?”

Be careful with this though as you don’t want to interrogate the person.

Your Reaction to Criticism and Disagreements

For me, I find there is always something to learn here. Whether I agree with the criticism I will try to take the time to reflect on it. Sometimes they’re right, and other times it seems to be a lack of understanding (that’s up next, see below… lol).

Disagreements? Well, first off winning an argument is absolutely meaningless.
I seek to understand the other person’s point of view. While I may not always agree, I take it on the wing.

How we resolve a disagreement is always more important than the issue at hand. (Click to Tweet)

You Truly Seek to Understand the Person You’re Talking with

Ok, so I’m a words of affirmation person. So words are meaningful to me. They have the power to kindle a fire in my soul, and at times they can also rip a hole right through my heart.

What’s up with all of that? Well, words will tell you a lot about the person you’re communicating with, if you listen carefully.

You see, listening is an art. So while words are important to me, seeking to understand the person that I’m talking with takes your communication to a different level. Understanding the other person, who they are and what’s going on in their life will lead to a more intimate conversation and relationship, be it a friendship, business associate, and yes, even your spouse.

You View Listening as a Learning Process

There is a great deal you can learn from listening, both about people and interpersonal relationships.

Did you know that body language is an excellent way to engage in conversation? It lets the other person know their voice is being heard. Maintain eye contact, and use affirmative gestures such as nodding. In doing so, you encourage others to share their thoughts.

Listening has a powerful potential, it’s the most important facet of good communication.

Recognizing your shortcomings as a listener will help you improve. Hey, we’re all on the learning curve here.