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Five steps to help us listen better
We’re living in the ‘dark age of distraction,’ and have all sat in a meeting, or been to dinner with someone who is checking their emails while we’re trying to converse with them. Before you nod in agreement let’s humbly accept that we’re not just the victims but at some time have been the culprits too. Think about it. Have you ever been on the phone with someone and tried to read your emails at the same time? Or on the phone ‘listening’ to someone else while your child or spouse stands near you asking you a question? Or typing an email while someone is talking to you on a speakerphone? The truth is that we have all done it. While we can put our hands on any information we desire, at any time, are we losing the art of slowing down, concentrating on what someone else is saying and reaching true understanding?
We know that research has proven over and over again that we can’t effectively do two things at once. While ‘multi-tasking’ has become the norm, we are not hard-wired to be able to effectively do more than one thing at a time. When it comes to listening to others, it’s important to remember this.
We lose a great deal when we neglect to focus on another person. When we aren’t giving our full attention and we have to ask someone to repeat themselves, we send a message to the other person that they aren’t that important to us. We don’t learn as much about others, and we can’t possibly convey that we care about others, without putting the energy and attention into listening to them.
We all have them. We take in information through the filter of ‘me’. We process it, digest it and understand it by relating it to something we think we already know. Unfortunately, in the listening arena, this means we may not allow someone to finish their thought. Or we may put a label on what they are saying, or judge their experience. We are quick to jump to a conclusion, thinking we ‘know’ what they are saying. Putting aside our filters means we stop those voices in our heads while we are listening to someone else. We don’t cut them off in mid-sentence. We don’t respond to their story with a story about our lives and our concerns. Instead, we listen and patiently wait for the person to explain. We probe and ask ‘why’ questions for deeper understanding; not in a combative way, but with a sincere interest and curiosity. Seek to learn who they really are and why they say what they say.
To read the complete article and tips for regaining the lost art of listening,