One of the most vital skills you hear time after time in becoming an effective communicator is to grasp the ability to listen. Active listening skills are not something properly taught in school, and thus a large undeveloped skill in most people. Learning to listen effectively is an underestimated skill that anyone can learn and practice. You will gain and learn more through listening rather than from talking too much.
Are You Hearing Or Listening
There is a distinct difference between hearing someone talk and listening properly. Hearing is the actual physical dimension of the sound waves that strikes your ear and the brain then processing and translating that sound into meaningful information. Listening however, involves a lot more than just the hearing process. Listening incorporates paying actual attention and then focusing and interpreting with the intention of responding appropriately.
One of the most basic of human needs is that we need to be understood. The best way to understand someone is to listen to them, and hopefully someone in return listens to you. When someone feels that you have actually really listened to them, you will then gain their respect, and they will value and give you the credibility to speak to them in return.
Consider the feeling when you sense that someone is really listening to what you have to say. You feel great, you feel understood, you feel connected to that person who is listening. The fact that they’re actually interested in what you say causes you to feel better.
The Importance Of Listening Is The Ability To Attend
Attending or attendance is the process where we focus on a message of the person speaking, and then filtering out everything else that you find distracting. It’s the ability to focus on what that one person is saying, and ignoring everything else that may be happening.
Someone once said that the reason why “History tends to repeat itself,” is because when it happened the first time, no one was listening. When you look around and pay attention, you will notice that history really does repeat itself, so listen, watch and then observe in your home or workplace.
One of the biggest barriers to ‘attend’ is your desire to talk. The natural desire to talk is so strong that, while the other person is talking we are actually thinking about what we’re going to say next, and then we wait for the opportunity to speak. We focus on what we’re going to say as our attention goes from that person making noise to our own thoughts. Although we appear to be attentive and interested, we are easily distracted by our thoughts or something else that’s happening simultaneously. At that point, we fall into hearing and not listening. Our mind’s attention has drifted off onto other things, and is no longer intent or interesting in understanding or responding.
True listening and absorbing is a skill that we can learn and practice as the mind actually functions and interprets information seven times faster than we can speak. So the mind needs to slow down and focus and listen to what the person is actually saying, and not paying attention to other irrelevant thoughts.
The Success Principle
One of the Principles in the book, The Success Principles, is how to ulitlize the power of listening as a way to build rapport and connecting with people. The author created a series of 4 questions that he will use in personal as well as business situations. He will ask the questions one after another and just listen.
The first time he tried this technique was with his sister Kim. He asked the first question and then listened to her response. When she finished, he then asked the next question, and continued until he asked all four questions.
After the process, Kim said “That was the best conversation that we’ve ever had, Thank you” He hadn’t said a single word to her other than asking the four questions, and had resisted the urge to jump in with his own responses. He has found this works extremely well and uses the four questions frequently.
By using this question strategy, you will be amazed at the results. Not only will the questions give you a greater understanding of that person, but through actively listening to someone without interrupting, they have experienced a better sense of connectedness. The lesson is to make sure that you ask more questions and listen more than you speak.
Take a quick moment to think about a question that you could ask to practice actively listening, and then resist the urge to speak. When you get the opportunity, use the questions and then experience the power of building rapport with others, simply through the power of listening.