• David Strittmatter

The importance of right listening

Listening is an art that requires attention over talent, spirit over ego, and others over self. - Dean Jackson

Summary:

  • Listening skills are among the most important skills for a happy and successful life

  • People will be willing to listen to you more attentively

  • Many of the troubles result from someone not hearing something or getting it in a distorted way

Practical advice:

  • Don't interrupt the other person

  • Be curious and attentive

  • Don't judge and be emphatic


Dear friend,


Do you know this feeling when you talk to someone and you felt really understood?

When we talk to other people, it's a wonderful feeling if we're given full attention. And it's rather what the person doesn't say than what s/he says that will eventually decide how we'll remember a conversation.


It's not surprising that in many relationships partners complain about their partner not listening right. Many of us have never really learned to listen. As soon as we get to school, we are rewarded for opening our mouths and not for listening carefully. Even later in the job, it's not the person who analyses the situation first and then gives his/her opinion on it but rather the person who first takes the initiative and raises his/her voice that will earn the recognition of others.


In today's article, I will talk about the importance of listening and how we can become better listeners.


The importance of proper listening


Why you should acquire strong listening skills?


Develop great and improve relationships


When you give your best attention to people, expressing thoughts and experiences that are important to them, those individuals are likely to see you as someone who cares about their well-being. They will feel much better understood and appreciate your time so much more. Moreover, people will be willing to listen to you more attentively, too.


In our world, people listening well become scarce and scarce. If you want to impress someone, with great listening skills you can definitely make an impression on many people. When you listen well to others, you reveal yourself as being curious and interested in people and events. People love others that care for them and their opinions.


Become a better leader and manager


As a Harvard Business Review article found out, top executives that started to think of listening as an important subject by itself understand that the majority of their work highly depends on listening to someone or on someone else listening to them. When they thought back about things that went wrong the past years, most realized that many of the troubles resulted from someone not hearing something or getting it in a distorted way. They were surprised when they found out that listening is the most important link in a company’s communications, and that listening is often the least developed communication skill in their company.


How to become a better listener


Listening is purposeful and focused rather than accidental. It requires motivation and effort. Listening, at its best, is active, focused, and concentrated attention for the purpose of understanding the meanings expressed by another person.


There's so much information out there about how you can improve your listening skills. Hence, for the sake of simplicity and efficiency, I want to focus on the three most crucial aspects of proper listening.


Don't interrupt the other person


Great listeners don’t interrupt the flow of the dialogue. You need to embrace the two-way communication and be aware that with every interruption comes disengagement.

How do you feel when you are interrupted numerous times when you speak? Feels bad, right?


Try to wait at least two to three seconds after someone finished talking before you say something.


Be curious and attentive


Good listening is much more than being silent while the other person talks. On the contrary, people perceive the best listeners to be those who periodically ask questions that promote discovery and insight. These questions gently challenge old assumptions, but do so in a constructive way. Sitting there silently nodding does not provide sure evidence that a person is listening, but asking a good question tells the other person that you haven't only heard what was said, but that you comprehended it well enough to want additional information.


Don't judge and be emphatic


When someone talks about their perspective on a given issue, that's their experience and by definition, all experiences are valid. Might you disagree with their conclusion or their perception? Absolutely. But great listeners treat all perspectives worthy of consideration.

Many times, we provide criticisms about things we disagree with. This is important, however, not in the middle of the conversation.


A great listener makes the conversation a positive experience for the other party, which doesn’t happen when the listener is passive (or, for that matter, critical). You need to make the other person feel supported and convey confidence in her/him. Good listening is characterized by the creation of a safe environment in which issues and differences could be discussed openly.

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