Talking is Not Listening
Have you ever been involved in a conversation and then 10 seconds later you couldn’t remember what they said or even if what they said was significant? It’s not uncommon; in fact, it happens to all of us on a regular basis every day. We hear, but we don’t really listen with the intent to understand or attach any significance to what is going on. But a little active listening can go a long way towards building successful relationships.
One of the biggest hurdles we have in communicating with others is when we fool ourselves into thinking that communication has actually taken place. We talk and we talk; we are pretty sure that we have gotten through, mostly because we have made sure we got our say in. And then we may listen – or more accurately we hear but we don’t really listen because we are busy formulating our response or we have simply moved on to the point we want to make.
Stephen Covey once observed that
most people don’t listen with the intent to understand, they listen with the intent to reply.
Our Own Agenda
Too often we are concerned with our own agenda than we are with achieving any kind of understanding in a communication.
As leaders, one of the most important things we do; whether we are a leader in the workplace, a leader in the community, or a even a leader in our home, one of the most important things we do is listen to others to achieve understanding. When we do that, we can help others reach their goals. When we help others reach their goals, then our goals become possible as well.
[snaptweet]Nothing shows love, respect, and esteem more than a careful listening ear. When we listen with others, we treat them with esteem and we able to achieve more because we build better relationships.[/snaptweet]
So here’s a few things that will help you become a more active listener today and achieve better results:
- LOOK AT THE SPEAKER – I’m easily distracted and will be engaged in conversation while looking at a computer screen or something in the distance that has caught my eye. You need to take the time to focus on the person and you can do that easiest when you are looking at them.
- DECIDE NOT TO REPLY IMMEDIATELY – Often we are too busy formulating a response to really hear what is being said. By deciding not make an immediate response, you free yourself up to listen and understand.
- KEEP YOUR EMOTIONS IN CHECK – Once our emotions take over we often shut down and we are too busy reacting emotionally to really hear what is being said. The more you control that, the more you can listen to really understand before you respond.
- ASK QUESTIONS – Even if you think you know what they are going to say, asking questions can help clarify things.
- PROVIDE FEEDBACK TO UNDERSTAND – Paraphrase what the speaker has said and put it in your own words to ensure that there is shared meaning. If you got it wrong they will correct you and if you got right they will confirm it.
Chances are you have a meeting or will interact with someone today. Pick one activity to work on; for example, focus on looking at the speaker and dropping distractions. See how it works. How did it work for you?