You might be surprised to learn that communication is mostly about listening. It is such an important skill for us to have in order for our relationships to thrive. Listening is all about making sure you receive the whole message from the person who is speaking. You may think you already do this, but the likelihood is that you’re thinking of what YOU will say next. Listening is all about taking the focus from your own thoughts and giving it to the person who is speaking. When you are too absorbed in what you’re going to say next, you will miss out on messages and clues from the person speaking. Moral of the story? Listen more than you speak.
How To Listen With Your Body
EYES – make sure that you are looking at the person who is speaking and try to maintain comfortable eye contact.
EARS – be ready to listen with both your ears and hear what the person is trying to tell you.
MOUTH – remain quiet while they are speaking, unless you’re making encouraging sounds.
HANDS – quieten your hands and keep them by your side or in your lap. Don’t fidget (if you can). Don’t pick up your phone to quickly have a sneaky look.
FEET – keep your feet still and don’t shuffle them around when someone is talking to you.
BRAIN – don’t let your attention drift to what you will say next or something else on your mind. Give them your full focus.
HEART – try your best to care about what the person is saying to you.
Hearing vs. Listening
Hearing is one of our senses so it is actually just a passive physical process. It’s not something you consciously do. On the other hand, listening is something beyond just hearing words. It requires us to give our attention to what is being said. Listening is so important to our social and personal development.
It is also important to talk about this in relationships if you feel that someone is not listening to you. They may not be aware that they aren’t coming across as “present” in the conversations you have. Take the time to explain why it is so important to feel heard when you speak to them.
Why Aren’t We Listening?
Self-absorption: this year has been a chaotic one so it is easy to get wrapped up in our own issues and have these consume our thoughts 24/7. We tend to forget that other people are going through problems too. Know-it-all attitude: we learn by listening but sometimes, we think we have it all figured out. We don’t allow people to share their perspective, knowledge and ideas with us. There’s always something new to learn from other people and their experiences. Being distracted: our attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. With everything around us like smartphones and social media, we turn our attention to our screens instead of people. Stop scrolling and start listening properly. Put away your phone and give
someone your full attention.
Thinking we are good listeners: we might think that this is a basic skill, but it’s more complex than that. We can always improve and develop on this skill. It gets better with practice, so make sure you start listening better from today.
Did you know… A study from Business Communications: Strategies and Skills, found that the average person retains only about 25% of what they hear.
If you are looking to better your listening skills and learn more about the importance of this skill, I would highly recommend reading I Hear You by Michael S. Sorenson. This book delves right into one of the most valuable communication skills: ‘Validation’.