When we praise someone for listening well, how do we know? What makes us think, “That person is really listening to me”?
It’s all in the body language. Rapt listeners tend to keep still and maintain friendly eye contact. They don’t fidget, sway or look away constantly.
Try this test: Stay completely still when you listen. Don’t move a muscle. If you’re seated, straighten your back so that you don’t slouch; if you’re standing, balance your weight on both feet.
Resist the urge to scratch a mosquito bite or rub your scalp. Keep looking at the speaker and nod occasionally to signal understanding. Keep your hands free so that you don’t flick a pen or massage your smart phone.
Beware of allowing yourself just one eye rub or ear pull. Once you start, it’s often hard to stop. You can wind up overdosing on nonverbal tics that convey restlessness.
Stay immobile and you’ll find that people tend to open up. They may not be consciously aware of your stillness, but on a subliminal level they’ll feel more comfortable confiding in you.