Giving your full attention is important but how often do we do it? The temptation to tail off mid conversation is all too easy. In order to improve our relationships we must be willing to listen and repeat back some of what we have been told. This illustrates our core listening skills.
The majority of us enjoy being listened to as it makes us feel relevant and that we matter to others. It is disingenuine asking others how they are yet not being willing to stop and listen as they share their experience. Asking others how they are has become a formality, something we say but do we truly mean it? Are we prepared to listen to their response or are we hoping they say they are fine and we can continue with our day? I guarantee you have found yourself in such situations and I doubt it left you with a good impression of the person.
We need to be real with ourselves and others. It does us good to check our motives as they are not always right. I remember studying for my counselling diploma 12 years ago; I was not as good a listener as I thought. The practical person that I was (and still am), felt the need to find an answer, a solution, anything to improve the situation for the counsellee. I had to fight against being ‘a rescuer’ and simply listen.
We lead busy lives compared to 15 to 20 years ago. Apparently technology has contributed to making our lives easier but it has also opened us up to many social media platforms, many of which can consume our time if we allow it. Our busyness can hinder us from investing “real” time in others. Yes, Skype, Zoom and other video conferencing can be a good alternative when people are unable to physically meet but it should not replace human contact as a long term measure.
We need healthy relationships where we can discuss, debate and be real with one another. We need to be feel loved and cared for, knowing our concerns are of some importance to others.
How can we improve on our listening skills?
1. Resist the temptation to look at your mobile phone, watch television or do anything remotely distracting when being spoken to.
2. Do not try to find solutions for the person unless asked. Allow them to use you as a sounding board.
3. Allow enough time to listen so the person does not feel you have squeezed them in.
4. Refrain from bringing in your own experiences, particularly at the beginning of the conversation. This is about the other person and not you.
How would you rate your listening skills?
Is this an area you need to improve on?