Use neutral expressions
Such expressions as “I see,” “Go on,” “I understand” and “Yes”, help to set the speaker at ease because they indicate that you are listening and are empathising with the points being made.
Nod and smile
These gesture let the speaker know you are responsive to what he or she is saying. In this situation, a slight head nod doesn’t mean that you are agreeing, simply that you are listening. A smile encourages the speaker to continue, which is essential when discussing sensitive issues.
To keep a conversation focused, explaining what the speaker is saying by using your own words helps to ensure that the conversation stays on track. Rephrasing also ensures that any ambiguities are erased, which is particularly important in a business discussion and in any conversation that must end in a decision.
Asking questions shows the person you are speaking with that you have been listening and you are interested in what they are saying. But be careful not to ask a question that has already been answered earlier in the conversation as this could offend the speaker.
Avoid asking questions that can only have “yes” or “no” responses: these can lead the conversation to an abrupt end and do not facilitate communication. Also be aware that “why” questions can make the speaker defensive. When this happens, the conversation may become stilted and unnatural.
Communication is a vital balance of speaking and listening
Sharing our thoughts and ideas is important, but equally important is listening to those thoughts and ideas. For communication to be truly successful, it must, at all times, be a balance of listening and speaking.