Listening is the most underdeveloped and under rated human skill. And yes it's a skill. We are not born good listeners. As new borns we come into the world literally yell for attention. And as adults we are constantly thinking of what we are going to say next in a conversation. Yet listening is what makes our intelligence as a species more than the sum of its parts. It's not when we talk, but when we listen that we are connected to each other.
We are taught to read and write in schools but we are not taught to listen. As a result we all want to be heard but we don't know what it takes to listen. It takes effort and training to be a good listener. It's easy to listen for what we want to hear. It's really hard to listen to what is being said. Most of the time we are simply listening for clues and key words and phrases. Truly listening to what's being said takes effort and energy.
We have all become good at communicating out but not communicating in. We want to be heard but we are not able or willing to hear.
What comes in the way of our listening?
1. Our thoughts
2. Our desire to fill the void, the silences.
3. Our desire to impress with our ideas/experience/thoughts
4. Our desire to share our similar experience as a way to connect.
5. Our own need to be heard !!
What are ways to improve your listening skills:
1. Do not interrupt the other till they stop.
2. Do not allow your thoughts to wander to what you want to say.
3. Stay with the narrative of the person speaking. Listen to every word.
4. Keep your experience and stories out of listening.
5. Keep in mind listening is an active verb and not a passive action.
What are the benefits of being a good listener?
1. People will simply gravitate towards you.
2. You will find others are willing to listen to you.
3. You will become a wealth of information and knowledge.
4. You will truly be able to empathize with others
5. You relationships will be more meaningful and deeper.
Next time someone speaks to you. Give them the gift of listening.
It will not be easy, but it will change how you view the world.