Strong relationships are essential to achieving good mind health, but many things can impede your ability to connect with friends and family members during a conversation.
In addition to the distractions from new technologies and the tendency to multitask, another major problem is poor listening skills.
Here are some ways you can fortify your relationships by boosting your ability to listen:
• Clear your head. One reason we don’t track a conversation is that we are distracted by our own mental chatter about other concerns. To prevent random thoughts from interfering with your mental focus, make a conscious effort to put them aside so you can focus on the speaker.
• Clarify what you hear. While someone speaks, we often create assumptions and conclusions, but our initial inferences may be wrong. To become a better listener, try repeating back what you heard the person say, and ask about your assumptions to check if they are correct.
• Show interest. Expressing a natural curiosity about another person will keep your mind focused. Ask questions throughout the conversation, which will encourage the other person to speak more freely and bring you closer.
• Don’t interrupt. Many of us get excited during a conversation and complete the other person’s sentence for him or her. Avoid this temptation; let your friend talk and wait for natural pauses to comment or ask questions.
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