The question to ask yourself after conversations is, “Did I listen and communicate effectively with this person?”
Asking yourself this question allows you to be aware of whether you were really listening.
Stop. The best way to really hear what someone is saying is to stop what you are doing.
Look. It’s easier to focus on what someone is saying if you are looking at him/her as opposed to looking at what you are doing, unless you cooking or driving, of course. Then you might want to chat with them later so you can pay attention to what you are doing.
Listen. You think listening would be easy to do because you do it all the time. When someone is talking, you need to check in with yourself about whether you are hearing him/her, or you are paying more attention to your thoughts or jumping in with what you feel he/she “should” do or, with your own story.
Repeat. One of the best ways to know if you are focused on what a person is talking about is by repeating back to him/her what has been said. No, not word for word, but paraphrasing what has been said. If you didn’t hear correctly he/she will probably let you know by reinterating what was said.
Validate. When you acknowledge how a person feels you are saying, “I hear you”.
Support. Ask if there is anything you can do to assist. Remember, not everyone is good at knowing what is needed or for asking for help. Think of what you could do that might help. A cup of tea, an ear to listen, a gift certificate, flowers, a card, checking in, etc.
Allow. Let the person who is talking have a chance to come up with some of his/her own possibilities or a chance to just be with how he/she is feeling. You can ask if he/she has thought about the next step, or plans.
Two Cents. Your insights are brilliant and it’s wonderful to share them, but wait before you jump in. People are more receptive to what you have to say once they have felt their feeling and are being heard first. If you aren’t sure you can always ask if the person would like some input.