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Many of us don’t “listen” at all; we’re just waiting for our turn to talk, says Gerald M. Goodman, PhD, professor of clinical psychology at UCLA and author of The Talk Book: The Intimate Science of Communicating in Close Relationships. “You can improve your attention giving after you become aware of how rushed responses, interruptions, and overtalk contribute to verbal crowding in conversations,” he says. The next time you’re in a conversation, be aware of how soon you feel like you want to share your comment and be honest about whether you’re really listening. Take a breath and consider whether your contribution will really add to the discussion. Positive body language also helps you feel more connected.
You ask, ‘How are you?’ and don’t listen to the answer
How often have you greeted a friend or family member this way, but didn’t actually listen to—or want to get into—how they were doing? “Our interchanges become so ritualized,” says Dr. Goodman. “We say, ‘Hi, how are you?’ but we really don’t care about the answer. Those kinds of things that creep into conversation can deteriorate the meaning of the connection,” he says. Next time, instead of rushing through a compulsory greeting to get to the “real reason” you’re talking to this person, allow time to hear how they’re really feeling. Do this as a matter of course, and you’ll build more meaningful relationships with friends, colleagues, and even casual acquaintances. Here’s what all good listeners do during conversations.