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Being a good listener is a trait that is hard to come by.  I personally, am a horrible listener.  I am great at talking.  But I fail when it comes to listening.  My husband keeps challenging me to listen to him.  I have come up with a few ways I could make myself a better listener.  And in turn a better friend, sister, and spouse.

Being a good listener means you care.  Even if they are talking about their great-uncle so-and-so’s cat; if they care about it, you care.  It takes a lot to care about something because someone else does.  Show you care by asking questions.  “What kind of cat?”  To really truly care means you care about the person, so anything they say must be important.

You must also remember what they have told you.  That is a tough one.  When your coworker tells you about their child’s award; remember it.  Not only that they got an award, but what did they get it for?  Then, show that you remembered by talking about it at a later date.  You might ask “Where did Joe put his trophy?”  It will go a long way in the relationship with the person.  Not only did you listen you remembered.

Be okay with being wrong.  This is the hardest part.  I like to think I am always right.  Always.  To be a good listener you have to listen to the other person’s point of view.  You might realize you were actually wrong.  Or maybe you weren’t wrong, but maybe they have a better way.  But you have to be able to admit it.  You have to be able to say, “You have a good point.  Maybe we should do it your way.”  Or even, “I was wrong.”  –It was hard for me to even write those words!!–

Listen with your whole body.  This means stop what you are doing and look at the person.  Sure, you can hear what they are saying while checking Facebook, but are you really truly listening?  No.  Stop, look, and respond.  You might even have to get up and move to get close to them.

You must interact while listening.  You can’t just stand there and stare at them.  Ask questions, smile, even a nod will show that you are listening.  If they are telling a funny story, laugh.  If they are telling a sad story, offer a hug or touch their shoulder.

When listening to a child, get on their level.  If needed squat down or pick the child up.  A child can tell when you aren’t listening.  “Mom, mom, hey mom.”  Might be a clue that even though you keep saying “yes” you aren’t really listening.

These things are things I struggle with, daily.  I wrote these down to challenge myself to be better.  Maybe one day I will be able to say I have mastered the art of listening.