Most of us acknowledge its power to open hearts and minds in select moments, but we don’t always appreciate the way it can connect us to friends, teachers and colleagues. The easiest way to understand the experience of another is to listen. Here are three quick ways to deepen the experience:
Use nonverbal cues to acknowledge what is being said—smile, nod … whatever makes sense. If you notice the urge to interrupt, see if you can pause and continue to listen.
Paraphrase the words you are absorbing without judgment or commentary or advice or debate.
Pose open-ended questions that encourage the speaker to elaborate, if they so wish.
Listen with your ears, of course. Even better, listen with your heart.
Rebekka Kuhn, “The Power of Listening: Lending an Ear to the Partner During Dyadic Coping Conversations,” Journal of Family Psychology, June 4, 2018.