A vital skill to become an effective communicator is the ability to listen. “Listening” skills are not taught in school and, unfortunately, are skills that are underdeveloped in many people. When you listen efficiently and in a genuine way, is a powerful skill that can be learned and practiced. You will gain more respect and appreciation through listening instead of talking.
It’s amusing how sometimes you associate a certain phrase with someone. I knew someone called Albert and what I remember most about him was that when he heard someone talking, he would keep saying “I’m listening.” I would wonder if he was saying that because he listened, but he did not agree with what he was saying. , or if it was an uncompleted filler.
However, there is significant difference between listening and listening attentively. Hearing refers to the physical dimension of sound waves that hit the ear and that the brain transforms into meaningful information. Listening, however, involves much more than the hearing process. It incorporates paying attention and focusing with the intention of understanding and responding appropriately.
Understanding other people and being genuinely understood is one of the primary needs of human beings. If you really want to understand other people, then it’s best to listen to them. Not only that, but when people feel that you have really heard them, you will get their respect and they will value you and give you the credibility when you speak.
Consider how you feel when you know that someone is really listening to what you have to say.
It feels good, one feels understood and more connected to the person who is listening. The fact that they are interested makes you feel taken care of.
An important element of listening is the ability to be present and attend.
To attend is the process in which we focus on a message and filter others who distract. It is to be able to concentrate on what the person is saying and filter out all the other things that may be happening at the same time.
Someone once said (person was anonymous) that the reason why a story repeats itself is because nobody listened the first time. When I first heard that, I realized that I had a story that was always repeated at home at bedtime! That is the moment when my kids practice attending. They are very focused on what they’re doing, like playing video games and they filter me out as a distraction every time I remind them it’s time to sleep.
One of the biggest distractions to attend is our desire to speak.
The desire to speak is so strong that while the other person is talking, we may be thinking about what we are going to say next and wait for the opportunity to speak. When we focus on what we are going to say or interject, our attention goes from what the individual is saying to our own thoughts.
Although he may seem interested and attentive, we can easily distract ourselves with our thoughts or something else that may be happening at the same time. At that moment we may simply fall into listening and not listening. The attention of our mind has focused on other things and is no longer intended to understand and respond.
Attentive listening is a skill that must be learned and practiced because the mind works seven times faster than it is possible to speak. Therefore, the mind needs to be slower and focused on what the person is saying, and not pay attention to other thoughts or irrelevant distractions.
I gotta say that one of my favorite publications of all time is “The Success Principles“, written by Jack Canfield.
One of the primary Principles he writes about in the book is how to use the power of listening to establish a good relationship and connect with people.
Jack created a series of four questions that he uses in personal and business situations. He asks the questions one after the other. The first time he tried was with his sister Kim. He asked the first question and heard his answer. When he finished, he asked the following question and continued in this way through all the questions.
Then Kim smiled at him and said, “That’s the best conversation I think we’ve had, I feel very clear and focused, I know exactly what I need to do and do now.” Thank you. “I was surprised because he had not said anything, just one word, except to ask the four questions, and he resisted the inclination to jump with his own answers, he found that this works every time and he uses the questions frequently.
I have used this strategy, but using my own questions and I have been surprised by the results. The questions not only gave me a greater understanding of the person, but through the act of actively listening to people without commenting or putting my 2 cents in value, they have experienced encouragement and a sense of connection. Now I make sure to ask questions and listen more than I speak.
Why don’t you to take a moment now to think of a question you can use to practice active listening and resist the impulse to speak. When you have the opportunity, use your question or questions and experience the power of establishing a relationship with others through the power of listening.