1. Ask your loved ones to rate your listening skills. Solicit suggestions. We can encourage them to pause and say, “Are you listening?” when they feel we’re zoning out or being distracted. The key is to bring awareness to our listening skills and to accept constructive feedback.
2. Talk less. Take a breath. Practice not interrupting by tuning into the words and the silence that follows. Notice if the person we’re speaking with is losing focus and drifting into distraction while we’re speaking. That can be a signal that we’re talking too much.
3. Make eye contact. Listen to more than just the words being said. Watch the people’s expressions and peer into their soul. In so doing, we offer another opportunity for others to feel loved.
4. Pay attention. We tend to pay attention to what we’re thinking instead of what the other person is saying. We’ve got our comeback planned even before they utter their last syllable. The message we’re sending is that what we have to say is more important than what they’re thinking and feeling. Instead, absorb everything that’s said without jumping ahead. This takes effort and practice, but it’s worth it.
5. Select one point of conversation. Even if we think we already understand everything the other person has said, say, “Tell me more” which invites a deeper level of sharing and intimacy.
6. Never betray a confidence. Nothing ruins intimacy as fast as having someone lose trust in our ability to keep our word. As we practice the skills that make us better listeners for others, we tune in more and become more intuitive about others’ feelings.