Master your listening skills and you'll be paving your way towards success. You can be a good listener by ignoring distractions, not focusing on the speaker’s errors and being patient.
Mute your cellphone or tablet and don’t pay attention to anyone else other than the speaker. This makes him feel that he is more important to you than anyone or anything.
Don’t focus on the speaker’s errors
Stop being a grammar teacher. At the moment, you are a friend, not an editor who’s ready to correct his mistakes. Just concentrate on what he is saying.
Don’t rush your friend if he talks slowly. Maybe he’s just gathering his thoughts or trying not to be too emotional about his issue. Let him talk about it in his own time.
Don’t put words into his mouth
Doing so will make him feel uncomfortable. He might feel that he is just wasting your time and stop talking.
Make good eye contact
Don’t look away or stare at something over the speaker’s shoulder. Establish good eye contact to show your sincerity and willingness to listen to everything he has to say.
Ask for clarification
It pays to paraphrase the speaker’s message as it would shed light on matters that you don’t fully understand.
Sometimes, listening is hampered because you are thinking of an appropriate response to the issue that the speaker is saying. Don’t do this if you really want to listen to everything the speaker is saying.
Let him cry it out
If the speaker is crying, don’t stop him. Just let his tears flow. It’s actually good for him as he will feel more relaxed and relieved after his crying bout. Offer a tissue or a hanky and hug him close.
Do not add fuel to the fire
Sometimes, a friend comes to you to vent his pent-up feelings for his spouse, another friend, supervisor, etc. Just let him talk about the other person. Keep your own thoughts if you know the person he is talking about. Do not make him angrier by saying, “Yeah, she did that to me too….” That won’t help at all.
Say encouraging words to show your interest
Saying words like “I see”, “Uh-huh”, “Right” or “Is that so” gives him the impression that you are still interested about what he’s trying to say.
Ask leading questions
Questions like “Can you tell me more about it?” or “How do you fell about it?” will show the speaker that you are intent on listening to him and make him think even deeper about his issue.
Be careful of your body language
Crossing your arms over your chest, rolling your eyes to the ceiling, yawning and stretching are all signs of disinterest and to a certain degree, rudeness. Show some respect and interest by leaning over, smiling when necessary, and nodding your head.