The art of listening
Have you thought about how you are communicating with those around you?
What about rethinking your day-to-day communication? Especially now that the start of the year “catch-up” is over.
And not wanting to jump the gun because for some holidays are still on but, what about your children as they head back to care and school?
Let’s start by making a bold statement.
The importance of communication can’t be over stated.
We hear statements like “keep communicating” and “take time to it communicate” but what is communication and how can you up your prowess?
What is communication
Communication is the skill we all employ to move our thoughts from our mind into another’s conscious thought.
Don’t you wish it was that simple?
It is a simple concept. An open mind connecting with another open mind through speaking and listening.
However, what we know, day-to-day is communicating isn’t that easy. We continue to work under the assumption that “I am talking and so the person I am talking at is listening”.
From my experience and observations it is clear that we all try to communicate effectively but “life” gets in the way of us communicating well.
So, let’s start with the element of listening.
The element of listening
How would you rate your listening on a scale of 1 to 10?
Are you an 8 or somewhere near a 10?
How do you know this? How have you developed your self-awareness?
Or do you figure you are closer to the middle or the lower end of the scale?
When have you been given this feedback and by whom? Have a think and explore your understanding of “me as a listener”.
It is important to understand the components of this communication element.
Can we make a commitment to listen better in 2019? I wonder?
Last year I was told, in a particularly stressful environment, that I wasn’t listening. I found that a challenging comment as I thought listening was one of my skills.
On reflection, I realise I wasn’t doing all of the listening components at the time. And that was because I was juggling a number of activities at one time. So, what did I learn that will assist you?
The components of listening
- You need to stop – physically. Stop what you are doing if you are going to listen. This “stopping” signals to the rest of your physicality, and the speaker, that you need to take up a listening posture.
- You need to stop – mentally. You need to take a moment to compartmentalise what you were attending to and be completely aware of the other person.
These were steps I thought I was displaying. But I wasn’t signalling to the speaker that I was listening because I was not physically positioning myself. I hadn’t stopped walking nor had I turned my body in a manner that demonstrated I was listening.
And I also know, because it was at that moment that I was told “you are not listening”, that my eyes were not focused on the speaker. They were flitting around my environment as I tried to keep a handle on the activities that my attention had been taken from.
So, therefore, I needed to mentally and physically get myself switched on to listen. But I also forgot to shut down my other thinking, which was saying “there is something else (more important?) that you need to be attending to”.
How can you keep that part of your thinking under control? How do you keep that part of your mind under control so that you can be fully listening?
A lesson in listening
Well here is my learning.
I know I am truly listening when the speaker stops talking and I am able to reflect back what I have heard. AND that it takes me some time to add my opinion.
In moments of listening, really listening, I have managed to completely shut down the parts of my brain that think:
- “what else is going on”
- “oooo I can tell you about that”
- “golly have I got an opinion about that idea”
It’s hard to do. But it is rewarding.
What are your personal processes that drop you into to ensure you are effectively listening?
In 2019, let’s listen. Let’s set up our behaviours and thinking so that we can slot into effective listening – as soon as we comprehend that listening is required.