Communication involves two parts of equal importance and weight: communicating and listening. If you expect to be successful in any relationship, you’d better be very good at both. In this piece, however, we’re going to look at the specific art of listening. Listening is important because it conveys your interest when someone is speaking to you and you are able to absorb what is being said so that you can effectively communicate your thoughts back to the person you’re with. It sounds really simple, and it is, but you’d be surprised how many people are terrible listeners. Here are some tips to keep in mind to help you through the dating process while looking, listening and communicating your best.
If you’re out on a date, always keep your focus on your date. This means your eyes should be on them – and them alone. It is possible to look at someone who’s speaking and not hear a word they say just as it’s possible to be looking at the ground and follow a conversation to the word. However, it’s easier when your eyes are on the speaker and it also lets them know that you think that what they’re saying is important.
“Small cues will help you maintain your focus.”
Try and plan for places that are conducive to conversation. A quiet, comfy coffee shop or museum is a great place where listening to conversation is easy. A busy club may be a lot trickier. Plan ahead so that the essential element of hearing what is being said isn’t an issue.
Take time before you meet to go over what you already know about the person. Use dating site or personal emails and instant messaging histories to help you build a better picture for what has been said. This will probably give you some good clues as to what to expect when conversations starts to roll.
Whatever prejudices you have, leave them at the door. Dating, online or otherwise, will put you in contact with different people from various backgrounds, upbringings and life experiences. You may agree or disagree with that they have to say but you shouldn’t let that get in the way of listening. Be there and take in everything they have to communicate and save your opinions until after they’re done speaking.
Use the pause. Sometimes you’ll find yourself bouncing back and forth in conversation with your date. When one sentence of theirs ends, yours will begin. This can mean you’re feeding off one another and conversation is flowing really well, or it can mean that you’re cutting each other off before you have said all that you want to say. Avoid this by using the pause. When you think they’re done speaking, wait a beat or two. Think about what it is they’ve just said, even if you’ve thought about it while they were speaking, then start your sentence. You will become more thoughtful and perhaps open up the door for them to fully finish all they have on their mind.
Show you are listening with your voice and body. Use head nods or shakes when you agree or disagree. Use little voice cues to encourage them along. You can even use hand gestures when appropriate. Small cues will help you maintain your focus and be active in the conversation without interrupting what it is your date is saying.
Obviously there are a lot of tricks to being a good listener. Feel free to leave some of your own in the comment section below. What is important is that you practice the art of listening. Relationships are built on communication so you’d better be prepared to spend a lot of time listening to what it is your dates have to say.