One of the greatest lessons in life is to listen with the intent to understand what is being said, instead of just listening to respond. The best way to listen is with your mouth shut. If you’re talking, you’re not listening! Think about it, the word listen and the word silent are spelled with the same letters! In order to be a good listener, we first need to learn how to be silent.
While you’re listening, pay attention to how what you hear affects you, not what you think about it, but how you are personally affected.
Before you respond
When it’s time to respond, consider your intention before you speak. Whose needs are you meeting? Are you trying to look smart or to be appreciated? Or is your intention genuinely to support the other person and to share your sense of connection?
We have all had those moments, when you walk away from a conversation then realise you cannot remember what the person said, wanted you to understand or wanted you to do!
How do we stop thinking while listening? If you want to be an outstanding listener, it’s difficult to do that while you’re constantly thinking about the next response.
Communication is something so simple yet so difficult to achieve. There might be times where you share your issues with someone but you felt that they do not understand you. Worst still, they reply whatever they feel. That happens because they are purely hearing your issues rather than listening to them. That is one of the issues these days. Listen to them, give them your full attention and when you listen you will know what to reply.
If nature gave us ears, it was not just so that we could hear but so that we can also learn to listen. We listen with autopilot on and with habits we have acquired where we do not want others to convince us of things we supposedly already know. We often limit our ability to listen to that which selectively confirms our beliefs.
Here are tips that you can apply to become more active in listening:
- Tune out distractions.
- STOP, LOOK, and LISTEN!
We need to train ourselves to do this when we listen!
- STOP whatever you are doing and pay attention to the details.
- LOOK at the person in the eye, watch for non-verbal communication. Slow down and be fully present in the moment.
- LISTEN It can be tempting to think about how you are going to reply while the person is speaking, but listening is not just waiting for your turn to speak.
- Do not interrupt or derail the person when they are speaking. Be respectful, let them finish their thoughts.
- Take an interest in what the person is saying.
- Don’t jump from “hear” to “respond” without ensuring you fully understand the situation or issue.
- First reflect on what has been said, and then answer.
- Wait for a response, don’t feel that you have to fill the space.
“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply. – DR. STEPHEN R. COVEY