How many times has someone said to you, “You’re not even listening to me.”? And your answer is always, “I heard you! I heard everything you said!” And then you regurgitate the words you heard come out of their mouth as if you’re reciting the Pledge of Allegiance for the 10,000th time. We’ve all done this and have had it happen to us, whether it’s with our family, friends, managers, or significant others. Or on the flip side, when asked what your best qualities are in a job interview, have you responded with, “I’m a good listener”. But are you really? Do you know what it means to be a good listener and why it’s so important?
I believe if everyone stopped talking so much and listened with undivided attention to the person speaking, miscommunication could be essentially eradicated. The crux of the issue is how consumed we are with ourselves in conversation that we forget about the other person. For example, do you find it difficult to remember someone’s name after you meet them? You go through the whole customary meet and greet. You shake hands. You introduce yourself and they introduce themselves in return. You have a pleasant conversation and later, you cannot, for the life of you, remember their name. And we say things to justify it in our head like, “Oh, I’m so bad at names”. No, you’re not. What’s happening is you’re consumed with saying your own name and focused on what you’re going to say in the conversation that you didn’t pay attention nor activate your active listening skills.
Check out this video to understand the different types of listening, what qualities needed to be considered a “good listener”, and ways to improve your own skills which will only enrich all your relationships. Let’s be honest, we all could do better in our relationships with others.
One fact that’s often ignored is that being a great communicator is not just about how well you speak. It’s also how well you listen. Using active listening skills can be a game changer in your own personal and professional life.
Active listening is an underdeveloped, under-appreciated, yet very important human skill.It consists of:
- Attentively listen to the person speaking, giving your undivided attention.
- Providing verbal and non-verbal cues that show you’re paying attention, such as eye contact, nodding your head, giving feedback, asking questions.
- Quiet your mind when you’re listening to someone in order to process what the person is saying. A lot of times when someone is speaking, we’re not actually hearing what they’re saying and instead we’re thinking of what we want to say in response. Active listening is having nonjudgemental, neutral, openness to what the person is saying.
We’ve all been there when we’re talking to someone and we feel like we could have a better conversation with a brick wall. Don’t be that person. Active listening is a skill that you have to consciously work on and when mastered will make all the difference in your life. When in doubt, be quiet and actively listen.