Friends, Clients, and Family, lend ME your ears…I want to tell you something about listening!
Listening is the communicative act that we will participate in the most – yet it is the one that we are taught the least. You will learn more about effective writing and speaking than you will ever learn about effective listening. Let’s start with the basics – the difference between listening and hearing. Listening is an active choice and hearing is a passive behavior. We often get lulled into using “hearing” and “listening” interchangeably, as if they are the same thing – they are not! The often over quoted “He/She just wants to be heard” is incorrect – any animal with the ability to hear can hear us. We want more than to be heard – we want someone to LISTEN to us.
Listening is a process – which means that there are steps involved that must be present in order for the outcome (or the behavior) to be determined listening. Okay so what are the steps in the process of listening?
- Being aware that a message is coming your way – We don’t generally listen to messages that we are unaware of…
- Paying attention to the message that is coming your way – Let’s be honest here, are you listening to messages that you aren’t paying attention to??
- Understanding the message that is coming your way – When we can no longer understand a message, we no longer listen to it (hopefully we ask for clarification and receive a brand new message that we do understand!)
- Responding to the message that came your way- This is a crucial step, not for the listener so much but for the speaker. This is “that moment” when you let the speaker know that you are still with them with a simple nod of the head, or “uh huh” or any facial expression that indicates you are getting the message (and hopefully you mean it!!)
- Remembering the message that came your way – And this is the test…Can you remember the main point of the message, if not…then you weren’t listening!
Sometimes when I have discussions with clients or students, I become painfully aware that they are not listening – even though they protest and can repeat the words that I said, when it comes to remembering the main point of the conversation — they are clueless. I don’t get too upset when this happens because listening is hard to do and honestly, no one ever really taught them how to listen effectively (actually most of learn ineffective listening skills) – so why would I expect them to know how?
“the” Truth about listening is that it is a process and all of the steps in the process must be present in order for the behavior to truly be listening. When one of the steps is missing in the process…you’re simply not listening!!
I spend a great amount of time teaching effective listening skills. The best part of teaching these skills is getting the feedback that relationships have changed and individuals feel acknowledged.
“Listening is the single most important way that we have to let others know that they exist” – DE
Knowing that effective listening is an important part of effective communication will also lead you to effective relationships!
Open Soul Communication
Effective Communication for Effective Relationships
“98% of Success is Support…I’ve got your back”-DE©