Listen up...

Reduce Stress by

Good Listening

Many stress situations stem from how you listen. Your ability to listen well is critical for good relationships and for reducing stress. The reason is simple: The better you listen well, the more the other person knows you care. When that sense of caring is present in a relationship, you and the other person experience less stress when you interact.

Unfortunately, few people know how to really listen well. Have you ever talked to someone and felt that the person was not listening to you? How did it prompt you to feel? Disrespected? Unimportant? Angry? These are normal reactions. That is why listening well is so important—and is a skill that needs practice.

The key to listening is to be attentive and not let your mind drift while the other person is talking. If your attention has a tendency to wander when you’re listening to someone, but you want to improve relationships, use this technique: Listen as if you were going to repeat back what is being said to you. This can help you maintain attention and avoid a tendency to interrupt.

No one likes to be interrupted when making a point. Try the following next time you are interrupted in a conversation; it will get a laugh and make the point: “Excuse me for speaking while you’re interrupting.”

Some scientists say that about every 11 seconds our minds talk to us. When we’re listening to someone else speak to us—typically about 250 words a minute—our minds, which are capable of dealing with thousands of words per minute, go wandering off.

A Technique to Improve You Listening

One way to keep your self-talk in check is to continually focus on the speaker by using the rapid repeat technique. Like anything new, it takes some practice. Here’s how it works: As you’re listening to someone, you talk along with the speaker in your mind as the person is talking, saying the exact words and phrases, in the same tonality, and at the same speed.

Using this technique, three things occur:

  • First, you direct your concentration because your inner voice, your inner dialogue, has something to do.
  • Second, this procedure enhances recall by reinforcing what you are hearing. Many studies have shown that listening is not nearly so effective in remembering as when listening and then repeating what you have heard.
  • The third aspect has to do with attention. You are more apt to look at the speaker during the process, which promotes your attentiveness.

Tip: Good listening and caring are so intertwined that if you experience one, you also experience the other. Take the time to listen well and watch your relationships dramatically improve.

Here's a (funny) example...

Watch "Active Listening" ➤

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