I have learned that more people love to talk than listen. Between the pundits, politicians, experts and social posters on the internet, everyone's talking and expressing an opinion. But how many are really tuned in and listening?
These past few weeks I turned down the "noise" to address some personal matters that meant more to me than what people thought and said. I found it rather peaceful. No anxiety from the news and less time wasted scrolling through umpteen posts. I was able to have real conversations with people in person and by phone rather than just abrupt texts.
For years I was a better talker than listener. After my breast cancer diagnosis I was forced to listen to my doctors and to my own body that had been telling me for years to take it easier. I learned to ask questions and listen more intently. I also learned (slowly) to be quiet.
A skilled communicator knows how to express herself verbally and with purpose and how to listen with intent and sincerity. She doesn't talk over someone or around them or hog the conversation. She knows how to punctuate a statement to get her point across and how to pause to elicit an effective response. Anyone can be a better listener. It just takes being quiet and focusing on the person in front of you or the situation around you with thought and without distraction. Many people practice their speaking skills, but it's just as important to practice your listening skills.
Listening is not just about what you hear around you. It's also listening to your inner voice. And it's "listening" to someone's body language and how he or she is expressing him/herself by remaining silent. Much can be heard without anyone saying a word if you are perceptive.
Being a good speaker makes people listen to you. Being a good listener puts people at ease.
It's far better to give someone peace of mind rather than a piece of your mind.
- Disconnect from distractions around such as computers, iPhones, people
- Practice deep breathing techniques to help you concentrate and look the person speaking to you in the eyes
- Ask questions
- Repeat what he/she is saying to reinforce your concentration
- Count to 5 or 10 before interjecting your opinion into the conversation and avoid interrupting