Nothing hurts more than the sense that the people we care about aren’t really listening. We never seem to outgrow the need to have our feelings known. That is why a sympathetic ear is such a powerful force in human relationships, more than you know. And why the failure to be understood is so painful.
We live in such a hurried society. Everything is about having it, or getting it. We either want it now or yesterday if we could. I call it “I need it now” syndrome.
We live is such a rush that we forget to the “smell the coffee and the roses”
And times when dinner is something you zap in the microwave, working out is “taking the stairs” and reading books and watching movies is by reading the reviews.
“According to the International Listening Association, more than 35 studies indicate that listening is a top skill needed for success in business, yet less than 2 percent of all professionals obtain training to improve listening skills,” “Listening isn’t taught in any business school, and there are few listening courses available to companies. The subject tends to get dismissed as the dreaded ‘touchy-feely’ stuff.”
Overlooking the importance of effective listening can have costly consequences. “Companies lose billions annually,” “Listening is an active interpretation that shapes our realities, and it’s the answer to improving employee productivity, relationships, and increasing business with customers.”
Listening is also the key to managing the mood in a company. Did you know that “A lack of listening can result in degenerative moods among employees, including mistrust, resignation, and resentment?” “Whereas employees who feel listened to experience improved mood fueled by ambition and confidence, which boosts productivity and ultimately profitability”?
As business owners, managers and employees, we find ourselves dealing with increasingly informed customers thanks to the explosion of technology, it becomes even more critical that they truly listen.
And we are get bombarded with thousands of images every single moment of our lives. This technology age has blinded us visually with all the “Social Media” platforms like FB, TWITTER, Instagram, YOUTUBE, Tumblr, and gadgets like IPHONEs, IPADS, XBOX. Our attention has been fractioned. To where we are blindly “multitasking” our way into thinking, we are being productive.
We check our emails while sitting on the toilet, for goodness sakes!
But, Multitasking seems logical at the moment right? Seems to feel good when you can do more than one thing at a time. Feels like you’re getting so much done. What you are actually doing is too many things…. and poorly at that. When you focus on more than one thing at a time, you can’t possibly focus enough time on them to do them in the best way possible. You can’t spend 100% of your time on 10 different things. Realistically that means you are doing 10 things, at maybe 10% capacity or aptitude. A 10% pass on a test, isn’t even a pass! On most things, 10 % is a fail, 50% is a pass, right? So, are we failing most of the time, thinking we are being productive? Probably.
We have been obliterated with so much noise that we have become experts at tuning out, rather than tuning in.
We’ve gained an unbelievable amount of technology through the years, but it turn, have lost the habit of concentration, and have become experts on distraction.
I can admit myself, that sometimes my day gets filled with so much noise, that I may tune out on a conversation, not because it’s on purpose, but my brain feels like it has reached capacity and it just shuts down. So much information has been uploaded throughout the day, that I run out of gigs of memory Or is it terabytes? 😉
Is this the way of life that has made us forget how to listen. Have we forgotten how?
Whatever the reason why we have lost the art of listening is certainly debateable, but what I know for a fact is, we are missing out.
We are depriving ourselves “if you will”, and this deprivation has left a sense of disconnect.
How many times have you longed to be heard and understood only to have the receiving end ordering a pizza in the background, ordering food in a drive-thru, shuffling through papers or texting while you talk? Now do you know how it feels?
Many have conversations not because they want to hear what you have to say, it is because they prepare to respond. And when we don’t truly get though to the each other, we have a tendency to fall back on blaming. Most failure of understanding is not due to self-absorption or bad faith, but to our own need to say something. We need to react to what said or to hear ourselves, talk, rather then concentrate on what the other person is trying to convey or express. We don’t hear what said because something in the message triggers hurt, anger, disappointment or impatience, even though that was not meant in the message. If we learned to listen intently and then get clarification, before we put our own twist on the meaning of what was said.
We are “very capable” of concentrating and remembering information, if we put our minds to it, especially if we are concentrating at the task at hand. Why is it that we can remember lines in a movie, or memorize the whole song that we really love or enjoy, yet because we are so distracted during a conversation, where we can’t remember what was just said.
Listening doesn’t always mean agreeing, “I can listen to a point of view and not agree with it or act in accordance,” “What matters is that I’m attentive and engaged, and that the customer or employee or individual maintains dignity.”
Everyone Needs Someone To Talk To
How about we begin anew, today and moving forward?
Below are a few rules of effective listening to get you started, and if you already are a pretty good listener, they may just be a quick reminder or an addition to the skills you already have.
- Make Eye Contact.
- This first rule is very obvious but frequently forgotten. If you don’t look at the person while they’re speaking, you give them the impression that you don’t care what they say. In essence, it appears as though you don’t even care about Simple.
- Don’t Interrupt.
- Let the person speak uninterrupted. To master the art of listening you need to halt any good thoughts that come to mind and let the person say everything they need to say. Often times people simply need someone to talk to, not someone who will butt in and give their own thoughts and opinions. The goal is to shine the spotlight on them, not you.
- Practice “Active Listening”.
- The art of listening isn’t simply about staying quiet 100% of the time; it’s also about asking questions. These questions are for clarification, or for further explanation so that you can fully understand what the speaker is telling you. For instance, questions like these are brilliant: “Are you saying that _______”, “What I heard you say was ______”, “Did you mean that _______”.
- Show You Understand.
- Another great way to show that you understand what the person is telling you is to nod. You can also make noises that show you’re in tune with what the person is saying such as “yes”, “yeah”, “mhmm”, “okay”. This seems trivial, but it’s important to not behave like a zombie and demonstrate some interest and comprehension.
- Listen Without Thinking.
- In other words, listen without forming responses in your mind. Be wholehearted and listen to the entire message. It’s very tempting to fill the spaces, after all, our minds think around 800 words per minute, compared to 125-150 words we speak per minute. Don’t miss valuable information by letting your mind wander!
- Listen Without Judgment.
- To effectively master the art of listening it’s extremely important to withhold any negative evaluations or judgments. Make it your goal to be open-minded 100% of the time. After all, who wants to open up to a narrow-minded person? It also helps to be mindful of your “shut off” triggers, which are the specific words, looks, or situations that cause you to stop listening. This way, you can prevent yourself from shutting off in the future.
- Listen To Non-Verbal Communication.
- About 60 – 75% of our communication is non-verbal. That’s a lot! In order to know whether to encourage the speaker, to open yourself more, or to be more supportive in your approach, it’s essential to know what the person’s body is saying. Do they display signs of discomfort? Are they untrusting of you? Does their body language align with their words?
- Create A Suitable Environment.
- It can be really difficult to listen to another person when the TV is screaming, your phone is buzzing and there are thousands of cars passing by. When you remove all of these distractions and find a quiet place to sit down and listen, it’s much easier to listen empathetically with an open mind and whole heart. Also, when you indicate it would be good to “find a quiet place”, you put importance in the person and what they have to say. Once again, you show care and consideration.
- Observe Other People.
- If you’re really serious about mastering the art of listening, why not observe other people? One of the best ways to become a better listener is to observe the way people interact with each other, and all the irritating and rude things they do. Create an “annoying habit” checklist, and see if you do any. If you’re brave enough, you can even ask someone you trust about what they like and dislike about the way you interact with others in conversation.
- As Diogenes Laertius said: “We have two ears and only one tongue in order that we may hear more and speak less.” The art of listening is an invaluable life skill. Not only will it help you communicate better with your friends and family, but also it will help you succeed in every area of your life.
Notes & Excerpts from Loner Wolf~ http://lonerwolf.com/ by Aletheia Luna The Internation Listening Association, and the Book, The Art Of Listening