Listening is key to most relationships. We all know how it feels when someone pretends to listen, but does not give us their full attention. Mentoring requires strong listening skills.
A good listener hears not only what’s said, but also what’s left unsaid.
Here are some tips to become a better listener -
1. Be present
First, put your phone on silent and keep it aside. Face your body towards the other person, and if culturally appropriate, make eye contact. Show you are interested. Check your posture–are you relaxed and open? Give your full attention.
2. Stop talking and just listen
So often we do not give other people the space to talk. We interrupt them, finish their sentences, or talk over them. This shuts the other person down. Be silent. Give non-verbal cues showing you are listening. Allow for pauses so your mentoring partner can think more deeply.
3. Remove distractions
If you are meeting virtually, set your cameras in a way that you can make eye contact. Remove distractions. Avoid distracting behaviors such as doodling, checking your phone and yawning. Offer your undivided attention.
4. Be non-judgmental
Try to remove your prejudices and judgments from your interaction. Keep an open mind and fully listen. Show empathy. Try to step into your partner’s shoes and understand their perspective.
5. Pay attention to non-verbal communication
Watch your partner and notice their gestures, expressions and body language. Are you sensing how they are feeling? What are they saying through their body language?