Are You A Good Listener?

Sometimes we do realize it, but are not willing to put forth the effort that is needed in order to become a good listener.
Right now we are full on into what is called the Information Age. We are being bombarded with new information, from all angles really. Day in and day out we are forced to consume data and learn at a much faster rate than ever before, as information is multiplying at much faster rates, doubling and even tripling in the span of only two to three years. So, naturally, we are taught to filter. We have to, as there is no way for us to take in all the information that is being thrown at us on a regular basis. But when are we using this skill correctly and incorrectly? When are we using it at the expense of our relationships?

Good Listener

When I ask if you are a good listener, I am not talking about listening in the sense of listening to get the information that you need in order to do your job or complete any specific task, I am talking about listening in the context of your personal relationships, including those with ourselves. When we love someone, we give them our attention. We are in a sense, attending to that individual’s personal growth. We set aside our time and actively shift our consciousness toward them. We are consciously choosing to listen. Yet, in reality, so many of us are poor listeners. Truly listening takes a great amount of effort and focus. You see, it's actually quite simple, many of us are poor listeners because:
  • We do not realize we are poor listeners, so we therefore are unable to change what we do not realize we need to work on.
  • We do realize it, but are not willing to put forth the effort that is needed in order to become a good listener.
Truly listening sometimes takes a quantum leap of energy. How often do we spend our time “listening,” while actually thinking about the next thing we are going to say because we have this really cool story, about this one time...OR have our rebuttal perfectly planned out, OR are getting distracted by other things going on in our environment? You get my point. In essence, becoming a good listener in our personal relationships is an act of love. When we choose to put forth the effort to fully listen, we are willing to do so because we perceive great value worth attending to in that person and relationship. In giving our undivided attention, we are proclaiming to the speaker that he/she is valuable to us. How valuable do you feel when you know that someone is truly listening to you? When your story is being heard. It is a really good feeling, isn’t it? It is almost therapeutic. So in order to help you hone those listening skills, here are a few helpful tips.

Tips On Becoming A Better Listener

  • Be genuinely interested. Clear your mind and let the words of the speaker ring in your ears.
  • Tune out distractions. How do you feel when you are speaking and the listener is looking around the room or obviously not connecting with what you are saying? Not good, right?
  • Let go of preconceived notions and be open. Listening involves total acceptance of the speaker, the putting aside of all prejudices, personal desires and agendas, so that the speaker feels complete acceptance and freedom to be open. The more this happens, the more the speaker and the listener begin to fully accept one another, and the relationship is able to grow and mature.
  • Make eye contact, both when speaking and listening.
  • Turn your whole body toward the speaker, so as to “fully invest” yourself into the speaker and what they have to say.
  • Resist the temptation to rebut. Listen to the whole message and think about it fully before formulating your response.
  • Be observant of the whole message. Research shows that 75% of communication is non-verbal, projected through body language and tone.
  • Ask questions. If there is something said that is not clear to you, ask for clarification, yet only ask questions that will help you to understand the speaker's message better.
  • Re-focus a wandering mind. Sometimes our mind can wander while listening, and it is important to be up front and honest about this. Most people are very understanding, and appreciate it when we say, “I am sorry. My mind wandered for a moment and I didn’t catch that last sentence. Can you repeat what you just said for me?” This shows the listener that you do care for what they are saying and it also reassures them that the majority of the time, you are truly listening.
Becoming a good listener is an invaluable tool. One’s ability to truly listen can improve over time, but it never becomes an effortless process. We must continue to practice, and hone this craft. Have any of your own tips to offer?
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