Listening is hard work.
Not listening-to-respond, that’s not hard at all; it’s as simple as ignoring the other person completely and simply thinking about what you want to say next.
Listening-to-listen is hard. It means active listening. It means seeking out the message behind the words of the speaker. It means responding in line with what the speaker has actually said. It means validating the speaker too.
This type of listening is like listening-on-steroids. It clues you in to the person who is speaking. It gives you opportunities for growth and understanding.
It is the difference between speaking to a wall versus speaking to a person.
So many of us act as walls to the people around us, nodding and pretending to listen, when in reality we’re formulating thoughts – at best, we’re thinking about how to respond, at worst, we’re putting together a shopping list. (There’s probably even worse than that.)
It doesn’t feel good to speak to someone and not be heard. Think about the last time you tried to convey your feelings to somebody and they just seemed totally distracted. Maybe it was in person, or maybe even on the phone. How did it feel?
Real listening, however – being heard – feels great. It is validating and rewarding. It is life-affirming.
Real listening can be conveyed in many way, some of them verbal and some non-verbal. These are called cues. Something as simple as nodding your head or making appropriate listening noises can let the speaker know that you’re interested.
Asking questions, paraphrasing, and open-ended questions are also great ways to show your involvement. It makes a big difference in your listening.
It is important to note too, that we act as role models for the people around us. When we listen, really listen, and we give these cues that we are involved and interested in what another person has to say, we are often met with similar results.
We can teach the people around us to listen to us better.
Try to really clue in on what someone is trying to say today.
Let me know how it goes, I’d love to hear from you!