The most important communication tool you have is listening. There are several actions you can take to engage in better listening skills.
First, the best way to listen is not to respond immediately.
Actually count in your head for ten seconds while nodding or giving some other nonverbal cue that you are activelylistening.
Next, paraphrase or summarize what you heard the other person say. For example: "I heard you say I love you, is that correct? ". What the other person actually said was, “I love your hairdo”. As you can see repeating back is important in order to clarify not just the content of what is said, but the intent and tone as well.
Throughout, encourage the other person to talk and elaborate. Pay attention, look at the speaker and give nonverbal clues that you are listening during the conversation.
Clarify what you think they are feeling, such as, “You sound upset or angry”. This will limit negative or mistaken interpretation of the speaker’s intent and enable the parties involved in the conversation to have a clear understanding of what is being said and felt.
Actively listening with your whole self and verifying what you hear will avoid conflict and lead to greater understanding.