To Give One’s Attention
March 12, 2018 § Leave a comment
Take a moment, and think to yourself, who in your life is a great listener?
For some, this may be a hard question to answer. We live in a world where a vast quantity of conversations are two peers taking turns exchanging words with each other, and not actually comprehending what they are saying to one another. Frequently, while the other person is talking, we’re in our own heads crafting our next response. How could we possibly be fully engaged in what our peer is saying, if we’re thinking about what we’re going to say next?
Ultimately, our goal in conversations should be to listen to understand, rather than to listen to respond. I have been reading Rowena Crosbie and Deborah Rinner’s book “Your Invisible Toolbox,” and they discuss how the key to building strong relationships is listening effectively. When reading this, I thought to myself how accurate that point was from my past experiences. I’d like for you to think back to the person (or people) you thought of when you considered who in your life is a great listener – how do you feel about that person/people? I would venture to say that you likely are very fond of that person, and like being around them.
How can we become better listeners?
A good place to start would be to focus on understanding the speaker, before being understood. If the speaker feels understood, they will reciprocate the same courtesy to you when you’re speaking. While understanding the speaker, you will find yourself empathizing or seeing the speaker’s point of view. When this occurs, conversations are more productive, because both speakers feel heard and understood, rather than both speakers being talked at, and thus fostering better relationships. Everyone wins in this situation, then, right?
An additional way to be a good listener is to not interrupt. This one may seem obvious, but it happens a lot in day to day conversations without hesitation. Frequently, we interrupt someone because we’re excited about what they have to say, and want to contribute, or, we’re wanting to share our own experience. Regardless of the reason why, it’s disrespectful. Interrupting gives off the idea that your thoughts and ideas are more important than theirs.
Improving upon your listening skills can assist in your personal development skills as well. As Larry King has said before, “…nothing I say this day will teach me anything. So, if I’m going to learn, I must do it by listening.”
Working on improving your listening can impact many aspects of your life. Listening to your clients and understanding their needs, is vital in today’s competitive marketplace. Additionally, your spouse/partner could feel better after telling you about their day and you actively listening. I suppose there is indeed a reason we were given two ears and only one mouth…