THE LOST ART OF LISTENING
You can find courses in “Communication” at most colleges and universities but try to find one on ” Effective Listening”. Far too often, we heard people complain that true listening is a lost art. Along with this line of thinking, one can easily ask when was the last time one felt listened to? Listening means, in this case, feeling understood and validated.
Most of us think we are good listeners. However, in reality we are often distracted by external things around us like television, cell phone, and external noise or voices. In addition we have internal thoughts and feelings going around us at the same time.
If you’re serious about mastering the art of listening, consider starting with some of the following.
- Good listening is a two way street. The speaker may want to just talk. It is crucial that both speaker and listener are aware of the goal of the speaker. Make sure the listener knows upfront if the goal is just allowing the speaker to vent or is seeking advise and feedback, or just wanting to feel understood nonjudgmentally.
- Be aware not to get into a right or wrong with the speaker. Listening does not mean judging and debating the validity of what the speaker is saying.
- Good listening will prevent jumping to premature conclusions. The goal of the listener should not be to automatically rush in with a particular position but to hold back until the end of what is being said. Sometimes the problem initially expressed is not the real issue.
- Truly listening means giving eye contact and physically facing the speaker. It’s not just about remembering the content of what is being said, but also actively seeking to understand the emotion and feelings being conveyed. Being present with mind and body is crucial in achieving this goal.
- Listen silently. Keeping your mouth shut and your ears open will go a long way in achieving clarification or a clearer understanding of what is being said.
- Reframe from prejudging the speaker. Be aware not to let the previous impression of the speaker get in the way, by prejudging what the speaker says and means. The listener may learn something new by not allowing prejudgment to get in the way..
- Repeat mentally words spoken. If the listener is finding it difficult to concentrate on what the speaker is saying, focusing on the words spoken will reinforce the understanding of the words being spoken.
- Accept that distractions are part of listening. Be aware of being distracted and gently go back to focusing on the listener once distractions surface.
- Slow down, What’s the hurry? Speakers and listeners can easily get caught up in the rush of life. Ruminating about past hurts and mistakes or worrying about an unknown future, can result in missing out on the importance of the present.
- Treat as important what is spoken. Be aware not to be dismissive of what is said. It may end up being life changing for all concerned.
- Effective listening is like learning a any new skill. Simular to someone learning a new language or to play a musical instrument, it takes concentration and practice. Like any new skill, believe it or not, it is never too late to learn. Readers are invited to write, anonymously if they wish, about ways they are successful or unsuccessful, in harnessing gratitude in their lives. Readers can forward their thoughts and feelings by e-mailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org or mailing me at lifesourcecenter, 710 Main Street, Plantsville Connecticut, 06479.