I say it all the time, communication is a wonderful thing; wonderful and oh. so. difficult. You have the speaking part and the listening part.
The speaking part
- why you say it- what is your intention, purpose
- when you say it – out of the blue, during an argument, time of day
- how you say it – inflection- changing your tone can completely change your meaning
- what you don’t say – sometimes more telling than what you do say
- your body language – posture, facial expressions
Let’s focus on the listening part. Most of us, most of the time, are just pretending to listen. Our focus is somewhere else, maybe looking at our phones, rifling through things, watching TV. We aren’t really listening, we’re busy forming our next thought. We’re waiting for the other person to stop talking so we can speak.
The listening part
- be present, alert, engaged
- don’t interrupt
- ask questions – for explanation and clarification
- be empathetic – put your self in their shoes, understand
- give undivided attention
- don’t judge
Being listened to and understood is a very basic need. When you actively listen you encourage the speaker to open up and better convey their thoughts and feelings. The benefit for them is they can tell you have set aside this time just for them and that you value them and what they are saying, a rare thing, indeed.
The benefit for you
- you will be a better parent, friend, spouse, employee
- you will have a new and very important skill
- have better, open, honest, trusting relationships
- you will help others feel valued, in turn making you feel valued also
Listening is a skill well worth honing.
“The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention.”
-Rachael Naomi Remen-