If you want to improve your relationships with people, being able to listen effectively is a crucial skill you’ll need. However, it’s often considered a skill that’s been lost in recent years.

Even when you think you’re listening to someone, you may be surprised by how tuned out of the conversation you are. If you find yourself drifting off in your own thoughts or interrupting the other person, it’s a sure sign your listening skills need work.

Here, we’ll look at some of the best ways to be a better listener. Everybody loves a good listener and it is one of the best ways to be better liked and to make your relationships stronger.

Ensure that You are Fully Present

The first thing you’ll want to do is ensure you are fully present in the conversation. It’s easy for your focus to drift onto your own thoughts. For example, the other person may mention something that triggers a memory in your own past. By replaying the memory in your mind, you’re not listening to the rest of what they are saying.

When you notice your attention isn’t fully on the conversation, bring it back. It’s a skill you’ll need to learn and practice. However, it’s impossible to truly get to know someone unless you fully listen to them.

Notice when You’re Waiting for Gaps to Speak

Another thing you may find yourself doing too often is waiting for a break in the conversation to speak. That is, you’re wanting to reply to something the other person has said. It would be rude to interrupt, so you wait for the right moment to say what it is that’s in your head.

The trouble with this is that you’re often so focused on what you want to say, that you aren’t really listening to what the other person is saying anymore. So, commit to listening to their entire conversation.

You’ll still be able to say what you want to say, but don’t focus on it until the other person has stopped talking. You never know what you might miss if you only listen to part of the conversation.

Listen with the Intent to Learn

Another great tip is to listen to the other person with the intention to learn. That is, you’re seeing what you can learn from your conversation. Most of the time, it’s easy to switch off and listen simply to be polite. However, if you listen as though there’s going to be a test at the end, you’ll find it more difficult to become distracted.

Maintain Polite Eye Contact with the Person

While constant eye contact can be creepy, it’s important to maintain it appropriately. This helps to show the other person that you’re interested in what they’re saying. Looking away may be a sign of your anxiety, but it can also give the impression that you don’t want to continue the conversation. So, if you’re bad at maintaining eye contact, this is something you’ll want to practice.

Becoming a great listener can take time and effort. This is especially true if you’ve developed bad listening habits over the years. Try the above tips today with anyone you converse with, just for practice. Then see how much it helps when you’re trying to develop deeper relationships with those you truly care about.