Are you a meaning-making machine ?

How to Become an Effective Communicator -Practice Makes Perfect - Part 3

You can become an Effective Listener. Some important attributes to cultivate are

1. Focus your attention.
Do your best to empty your mind and offer the other person your complete availability, concentrating on the messages that
are being communicated. Block out any distractions, like background noise or other tasks and focus on what is being said, the way it is being said and any underlying emotions you may catch.

2. Make the Speaker comfortable.
The speaker needs to be relaxed with you to really convey the real gist of what is being communicated. Show them that you are listening and understanding what they're saying being interactive with them - nodding and showing expressions that mirror their communication, or exhibiting concerning body language allows the speaker to speak easily and most comfortably.

3. Show Patience.
Allow the speaker to take their own time in articulating what they are trying to convey. By showing impatience, using your own words to complete a sentence that they are taking longer to complete or even giving immediate solutions - you will be destroying the purpose of the conversation. The rule to apply here is that you need to listen carefully. Most people are looking for sounding boards, not advice to fix their life. A lot of people start thinking clearly after they have voiced an issue to you and are quite capable of sorting their lives. Do not start advising solutions to people if they have not clearly solicited your opinion.

4. Understand the Speaker's Perspective.
Consider any issues from their perspective and let go
of any preconceived ideas that you might have. By having
an open mind, you can more fully empathize with the speaker. This requires a lot of focus and continuous level of energy but nothing facilitates better communication than this process.

5. Remove your Bias
It is very difficult to listen to a perspective devoid of your own biases. Please remember that communication is not about you, your likes or dislikes or your experiences. It is about having an open mind to understand the perspective of another person, even if you do not agree with that perspective. It is not a conclusion you have the right to jump to; it is about the conclusions others have reached through their own process of understanding things and it is their purgative to do that. Everyone has the right to look at things through their own perspective and it's not important that their perspective does not agree with you. Do not use communication as a process to confirm your biases. No one needs to agree or disagree with your thought process.

6. Volume and Tone of the communication.
An effective communicator will use both volume and tone
to their advantage in order to keep their audience
attentive. Everyone uses tone, pitch, and volume of voice
in certain situations. Pay attention to these to get a better
understanding of what the other person is trying to say.

7. Key Message of the communication
Once the communication is over from the speaker's end, it is always a good idea to help get the "key messages" of the communication confirmed. You can detect boredom, irritation or enthusiasm very quickly in the slope of their shoulders, the expression around their eyes and the set of their mouth. When you're listening, remember that words convey only a portion of the message. Look out for any supplementary information that
they are conveying through non-verbal communication. It will help you focus on the real issue rather than the extraneous details that embellish the issue. It will also help you to look for signs of what was not said in the message through keen attention towards the body language of the speaker. Also, importantly, you would want to wait for the speaker to stop talking and pause before you paraphrase or ask questions. It is important for you to let the speaker finish all that they have to say and not interrupt the flow of the communication.

8. Restate and Paraphrase 
This can help the other person to 'hear' their own thoughts and focus on what they're saying and how they're feeling.
This also shows the other person that you're doing
your best to understand what they're saying and trying to
see their perspective.
This process also allows the communicator to get the time and space to focus and further explore their ideas.

Active listening is a process. And it is the basis for sound communication skills.