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How To Listen With Your Whole Brain

How do you become a better listener? In today’s world, communication is more important than ever but we spend less and less time listening to one other. In this episode, I reveal the 4 keys to becoming an effective listener.

"Be too optimistic to scare, too positive to doubt, and too determined to be defeated."

Jim Kwik

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Listening is powerful. It saves marriages and money and prevents mistakes and misunderstandings. You should listen twice as much as you speak. But it’s hard to listen to people today. We record everything so we’re not building listening skills, plus we are overloaded with all the noise out there. We are trained nowadays to want the soundbites of wisdom, which has weakened our listening muscles. The good news? There is no such thing as a good or bad listener. There’s only a trained listener or an untrained listener. Learn how to deeply engage with people so they feel understood.

Listen with more than your ears

  • Most of our communication comes from our bodies. Learning body language cues will help you gain context for the conversation.
  • Listen to what the speaker is saying AND how they’re saying it AND how they’re using their body. Are they moving closer or moving away? Is he/she relaxed or standing with stiff, crossed limbs? Are they looking away or looking at you? Are they smiling and touching their face? Are their feet pointed towards you or towards an exit?
  • Keep in mind that you can’t interpret body language perfectly. Someone’s arms could be crossed because they’re closed off or because they’re covering a stain on their shirt.
  • To improve your observation skills, re-listen to Kwik Brain 002: Improve Your Memory Now.

Maintain good ear health

  • Keep your tools sharp. You need your ears to listen.

4 Keys to Becoming a More Effective Listener: HEAR

H is for Halt

  • When you want to listen, come to a complete stop.
  • Pause what you’re doing, any internal self-talk, and how you’re going to respond so you can be present.
  • Free your mind and pay attention to the person you’re with. Listen to the speaker’s words, tone of voice, facial expression, and body language.

E is for Empathy

  • Imagine yourself in the other person’s shoes, wanting only to be heard and listened to.
  • Make an effort to think about where they’re coming from and why. What are their values, drives, and motivations?
  • E can also stand for engagement. Engage with the person and focus on the speaker. Face the speaker. Ask questions. Make eye contact.

A is for Anticipate

  • Anticipate involves two things: state and strategy.
  • The state of anticipation means that you’re looking forward to learning. All learning is state-dependent, and information combined with emotion becomes a long-term memory, so make sure you’re excited.
  • Look forward to what the person has to say and acknowledge that you’re likely to learn something brand-new and interesting.
  • This will enhance your level of attention because the art of memory is the art of attention, empathy, presence, and anticipation.
  • You should also use anticipation as a strategy.
  • Anticipate based on the content: where is the speaker going? What is the end goal?
  • Pretending you’ll be tested is a powerful listening strategy.

R is for Review

  • Ponder and reflect on what the speaker says.
  • Analyze and paraphrase in your mind or in a discussion with other listeners or the speaker, picking up key points in the conversation.
  • This is where you remember, using strategies from previous episodes like the memory palace.
  • Review these strategies in the following episodes: Kwik Brain 005: My 10 Favorite Brain Foods or Kwik Brain 011: How to Memorize & Give A Speech (Without Notes!).
  • Once the speaker finishes, show the speaker they’ve been heard by mentioning these key points. Ask clarifying questions, which shows you want to that go deeper and that you care.
  • Taking notes will also help you remember what you learn.
  • Handwrite notes because this will force you to focus on what’s most important in what the speaker says.
  • Learn more by listening to Kwik Brain 013: How to Take Notes for Rapid Recall.

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