Paraphrasing and summarizing are both fantastic communication skills that help you to make sense of a speaker’s points and also allow you to demonstrate that you are listening closely.
Consistent Eye Contact
Be sure to tailor your eye contact to the needs of others, too—if you’re dealing with someone anxious, cut back on direct stares and focus on other active listening skills that are less confronting to shy people.
Posture and Mirroring
Another tool in your attentive listening skill set involves paying close attention to the way you’re standing or sitting.
Ask Open Questions
Closed questions are one that can be answered with a simple “yes” or “no”, while open questions are designed to promote longer, more thoughtful responses.
Remember Past Details
Take any opportunity you can to add a comment that proves you have listened and remembered something from a past conversation—this makes people feel valued, and proves that you really do pay attention.
Nod and Understand
As with eye contact, nodding and smiling can be easily overlooked when you’re thinking about how to improve listening skills, as you might just take it for granted that you do this when you’re talking.
Listen to Understand
Finally, it’s vital that you not only act like you’re listening to the other person but that you also bring an authentic desire to listen in your conversations. Many people are just waiting to interject, change the subject to themselves or air their views, and this is obvious to others (even when the speaker thinks it isn’t).
If you go into every interaction with curiosity and genuine interest in others, this will come across in the way your presence feels to the other person.