If you’re more of a listener than a talker, you’ve probably been told on more than one occasion that you’re a good friend. When you take the time to listen you’re giving the other person your full attention, which is often all that’s needed. But there are other good reasons to stop and listen more.

Feeling down?

Pop in your earphones during your lunch break and go for a walk. Researchers have found that listening to music can lift your mood. The best type of music to listen to? One study found those who listened to tunes that were ‘beautiful but sad’ noticed the greatest improvement in their mood.

Need to focus? 

If you’re studying after work it can be very hard to concentrate. Listening to the sound of birds singing could be the answer, according to a study. It works because birdsong has been shown to relax you physically and stimulate your brain at the same time. Exactly the state you need to be in to focus.

You can try this out with an app available for free from the App Store and Google Play.

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Workplace stress

Listening can play an important role in helping you diffuse tension at work. Most people appreciate having supportive and understanding colleagues. Whether you’re a manager or team member, others will find great value in having a person around who actively listens and shows understanding.

Follow these pointers to fine-tune your listening skills

1. Pay attention: Face the speaker and give them your undivided attention. Don’t look at your watch, phone or other people

2. Be attentive, but relaxed: It’s okay to look around from time to time while you’re listening. Too much eye contact can be unnerving for the person doing the talking.

3. Keep an open mind: Listen without judgement or jumping to conclusions.

4. Don’t interrupt or offer solutions: If someone wants advice they’ll ask for it.

5. Give regular feedback: Nodding, smiling or using words and sounds of encouragement like ‘yes’ and ‘uh huh’ will make the talker aware that you’re actively listening

For career advice, read our career hub articles here.

Summary

Practising the art of listening can reap huge benefits for your state of mind. Here’s how:

•    Avoid distractions, like looking at your watch, phone or other people

•    Be attentive but take a relaxed approach – too much eye contact can be unnerving

•    Listen with an open mind – don’t jump to conclusions

Give regular feedback to the talker to show that your actively listening

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