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How to have better conversations.

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"The biggest communication problem is we do not listen to understand. We listen to reply," Stephen Covey.

In conversations, most people aren't actually listening. We're already busy thinking about what we're going to say next without actually hearing the words the other person is saying.

In his book How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie shares a story where he once struck a conversation with a botanist at a dinner party. He listened for hours as she went on about gardens, plants, etc. After the party, the botanist complimented Carnegie to be a "most interesting conversationalist". In reality, Carnegie had barely said anything. He didn't know the first thing about botany! All he did was listen with genuine interest.

What's the lesson? Most people just want to be heard. So, instead of listening with the intent to respond, a helpful technique would be to simply listen with the intent to understand!

Here's how you can become a better listener:

  • Put your phone down while talking to someone. Give them your exclusive attention
  • Make eye contact. Show you're interested.
  • Don't interrupt them. Listen fully and wait for them to finish
  • Rephrase what they said, in other words, then add what you want to. This shows you were actually listening to them.

In short, listen in the way you'd want to be listened to!

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