One of the qualities that women find most attractive in men isn’t just their looks — it’s how well they listen. Try these tips for becoming a better listener to set yourself apart in the dating pool.
Women often feel frustrated that the men they meet don’t seem to listen to them, so someone who makes the effort to be an active listener can really stand out. It will also make you more attractive as a prospect for a long term relationship.
What is active listening?
We often think about listening as being synonymous with hearing, but if you just passively hear your conversation partner what they say will go in one ear and out the other. As an active listener, you concentrate on what the other person is saying with the goal of fully understanding them. Avoid distractions, and try to put aside your thoughts and judgments until they are done.
Active listening makes your conversation partner feel supported and respected and shows that you care about them and what they have to say. Your date will appreciate this level of attention and respect.
How to be an active listener
The goal of active listening is to get a deeper understanding of what the other person is saying and to show that you’re really paying attention. Try to be a conversation sponge. Here are some ways to listen more actively:
Cut out distractions
To really focus on what your date is saying, put your phone on silent and out of sight. Try to put whatever you were thinking about before the conversation on hold to make room for what she’s about to say. Putting yourself aside makes it easier for you to focus on your date and shows that you care about her.
Use your body language
Whether we realize it or not, we pick up on other people’s body language and use it to interpret their thoughts and attitude. Use your body language to communicate that you’re interested and attentive. Good listening posture involves:
- Sitting or standing with your body facing the other person
- Keep your posture open and relaxed, avoid looking standoffish by crossing your arms or hunching your shoulders
- Lean in slightly to show you’re interested and make sure you can hear her
- Mirror her facial expressions — this is something most people do naturally. Sharing expressions shows that you’re paying attention to what she’s saying and how she feels, and shows that you understand the emotional tone of the conversation
Eye contact is always huge. It shows you’re attentive and helps establish a connection. You don’t have to stare obsessively at your date for the entire evening — do what feels natural, and take cues from her. It’s natural to take short glances away during the conversation.
Make verbal and nonverbal responses
During short pauses in the conversation, it’s appropriate and encouraging nodding and make small comments like “mhm” “wow” “really” “right” “yeah” “huh,” etc. The speaker will anticipate small responses like this every so often in the conversation; they confirm that you’re following along.
Repeat and Clarify
After your date makes a major point, or during a longer pause, it can be a good move to summarize your impression of what she’s said so far to check if you’re on the same page. Being able to repeat back the important things she’s said shows that you’re really listening and understanding her. For example, if you’re talking about how she started her career as a teacher, you could ask “So it was volunteering at the school that really made you decide to be a teacher?” Then she can agree, correct you, or add information. Make sure your question or summary is in the ballpark of what she’s said. Asking questions also shows that you want to know more about her.
Do’s and don’ts
Don’t keep trying to jump in
Even if she brings up something that you have a great response to, wait until there’s a pause in the conversation. Pay attention to the natural ebb and flow of the conversation and be aware of cues that it’s your turn to speak. Talking over her or jumping in before she’s done will make her feel like you don’t value what she’s saying or look like you don’t know how to read conversational cues.
Be wary of comparing what she says to your own experiences
It can be a good move to try to make connections and establish similarities. However, it’s important not to make the conversation all about you. If she tells you about a camping trip she just went on, it’s fine to say “Cool, I like camping too! I went to Acadia last summer and really enjoyed it.” It’s a turnoff to spend the next fifteen minutes talking about your trip and bragging about what a great outdoorsman you are. Instead, try asking her about her dream camping trip to open up more conversation about your common interests.
Also, be careful that the common experience you bring up doesn’t undermine her experience. For example, if she talks about how her father’s death shaped her experience growing up, it would be insensitive to chime in about when your childhood dog died.
Don’t try to fix problems right away
If your date tells you about a problem or challenge, you may be eager to try to offer a solution. Even though this response is meant to help, it isn’t always what your conversation partner wants to hear. Often when people share problems, they want a sympathetic, understanding response. Whipping out solutions may make her feel rushed or disregarded. Instead, comments like “that must be really difficult” or “I’m sorry that happened to you” is a more sympathetic response and a much safer conversational bet.
Active listening will help you learn more about your date and her interests. It will also help you develop and strengthen a relationship by showing that you care about her and what she has to say. Try to practice these techniques in your next conversation, or on your next date.