3 Simple Ways To Stay Focused & Improve Your Active Listening Skills
If while in a conversation you struggle to stay focused and think of that right word or phrase, at the right time, or the term of that... "what-do-you-call-it?", this can be very frustrating. But there are simple ways to improve your active listening skills and have you respond more effectively and with confidence.
Active listening is a way of listening and responding to another person that improves mutual understanding. This is a very important skill for your personal and professional life.
What Keeps You From Responding In a Conversation?
When having a conversation with another, you might be challenged to come up with the right response on the spot, and end up drawing a blank. You frantically search your mind for the term, or detail, only to come up empty.
That right word is somewhere in the depths of your mind and on the tip of your tongue, but refuses to come out when you want it most. The frustration you feel makes finding those words even worse.
Then finally, after an hour, or even 10 minutes, those thoughts suddenly appear. Unfortunately, that moment has already passed, and once again, you fail to communicate your value.
The reason you come up with the answer later is because that pressure to respond prevents you from thinking clearly.
How To Clear Your Mind And Improve Your Active Listening Skills
If you want these messages or words to come out at that opportune time, you need to have a clear mind for receiving information. This forgetting the word or phrase often has nothing to do with memory loss. The issue is that you have a habit of filling your mind with a lot of messages that really don't help you in the moment, but you choose to focus on them. It's more like an attention loss.
To create a clear mind you have to eliminate those messages. As the conversation begins, check in to see what's present. If it's not the person in front of you, then you must remove those messages so that you can focus, or be present in the moment.
Why Can't You Stay Focused And How To Overcome This
This is a very challenging task because these messages have been providing comfort for a long time. They give you a road map of how the conversation is going to go—good or bad. It also prepares you for battle if you feel judged or criticized.
By clearing away those messages, you're open to what's being said. You receive the information from the other person with an eagerness for discovery and growth. If you think of it this way, you don't feel as threatened and can remain calm, thus inviting your own value-added thoughts to surface.
How To Stay Focused During a Conversation
So here are a few things you can practice to get better at clearing your mind and improve your active listening skills:
1. Focus Your Attention On Every Word They Say
For every person you talk to, listen to what they say as though every word is important. If you find yourself drifting off to your thoughts, you need to reel yourself back in to their words.
2. Allow Curiosity To Find The Value In The Conversation
When we're curious we have that eagerness to find out more and ask questions that will add value to your life. Don't let assumptions ruin your chances of discovering that hidden gem in the conversation.
3. Use Your Body Language To Communicate Interest
Your thoughts will come out in your body language and if you're focused on the other person and ready to receive what message they want to deliver, they'll feel more relaxed when delivering it.
By practicing these three things you'll be more engaging and open for communication. This also allows a calm platform for the important information and details to surface that'll have you adding value to the conversation.
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Christine Hourd is a certified professional success and leadership life coach in Calgary, Alberta. She works with clients, online and in-person, to remove obstacles and create strategies to help them improve listening skills and focus. Talk to Christine and find out how the Success Mastery Program can help you reach your goals.