I Hear You - Building Listening Skills - Inspiration Source


January, 1970 Thursday

I Hear You

I Hear You

We all need to understand and to be understood. Both aspects of such understanding require a magic ingredient, that is, the ability to listen.

What is Listening?

Listening is not just hearing what the other person is saying. I believe that true listening is about focusing on the person more than oneself. The purpose of which is to fully understand what is being communicated.

I have 6 siblings, so I can safely say I belong to a large family. Growing up in such a large family, my usual way of getting my point across was to talk loud and fast. In other words, when someone was talking, I was focused on what I had to say instead of listening to the speaker. The same thing held true to each of my siblings. So, you probably can imagine how noisy and energetic our home was. The irony of this situation was that the more we all jumped over each other to speak, the less we were listened to or understood. Consequently, we had to speak louder in an attempt to be heard.

Let me ask you. Have you ever had conversations in a social environment or with family members and friends wherein everyone wants to have their own say at the same time? Usually, the situation is something like this: you are talking about a certain topic when suddenly, someone interrupts you or changes the topic. Or perhaps, you simply want someone to listen to you when they suddenly blurt out responses like, “I know exactly what you mean”, “I have been there”, or “my cousin had the same thing happen to them so I know how you feel”.

Today, I am happy to say that over the years, my listening skills have improved significantly.

When we truly listen, something magical happens. We begin to shine, and people begin to trust us. We open up and begin to feel safe and valued. At the same time, we become more aware and focused. It is through true listening that we learn and grow.

The benefits of listening are obvious, yet many are found wanting in this skill. It’s kind of weird when you consider how many conversations we have each day and yet many of us still don’t know how to truly listen.

But don’t worry. Developing good listening skills is like improving any other skill. All you have to do is practice. With practice, listening becomes a natural behavioural pattern that enriches our conversations and our experiences.

Have a look at the easy tips below to build your skill.

Easy Tips on How to Truly Listen

Tip 1: Value the speaker.
Be patient, and allow the speaker to express their own personal reality which may be very different to your reality.

Tip 2: Be present.
Be in the moment. Be curious of what is unfolding right now, and simply park your judgements and expectations.

Tip 3: Expand awareness.
Communication isn’t just about listening to words; it is far more than just words. Open your awareness to the message that is being communicated beyond the words. Look at the body language, expressions, and emotions of the person in his or her entirety.

Tip 4: Engage.
Show that you are listening. Have an attentive posture, and show relevant facial expressions. Ask questions and make verbal comments. You can even paraphrase what has been said to clarify understanding. For example, you can say, “So what you’re saying is that you’re having trouble with your boss, right?” Freely ask questions to clarify your understanding.

The next time you are having a conversation with someone, give these tips a go and really listen to the message. Notice the difference. Mastering the skill of listening is essential for success in all our relationships. Without listening, we can’t truly learn, understand, grow, and flourish.

The simple act of listening will change your outcome.

“Man’s inability to communicate is a result of his failure to listen effectively” – Carl Rogers

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