Think of any conflict situation you have had at work or at home. Write down in two or three sentences what led to the conflict. Be honest. You may be surprised to find out that either one and or both the parties involved just would not listen but only kept harping on their point of view.
We know that listening is an important part of the communication process. Yet we pay less emphasis on our ability to listen and more on our ability to talk. Ask people at random what they think effective communication actually entails. Most of them will tell you that it means being good at speaking. That itself tells us that listening as a skill is a highly ignored aspect in the process of effective communication.
We all know people often do not say things they mean and leave a lot of things unsaid. It takes a great deal of listening to be able to understand what a person actually means. The question, therefore, we should be asking ourselves is how we can become better listeners and as a result enhance our overall communication skill.
When we listen, we automatically send the message that we respect the individual for what he/she is saying. Active listening also provides us the opportunity to understand not only what is being said but how it is being said.
The answer is simple yet seemingly difficult to implement. To be a good listener, one has to listen! Simple as it may sound, try listening to someone and within seconds; your mind will be flooded with so many thoughts. Or you will simply jump in with your side of the story. Here is a list of things you can practice to become a better listener.
• Listen to understand.
• Fight distractions. Catch yourself not being attentive when someone is saying something to you. Don’t be checking your email or be on your phone when someone is speaking to you.
• Be aware of your filters
• Empathize with the person. Once you start doing that, your perceptiveness towards that person and his/her view will dramatically improve.
• It is difficult but do not react to what you listen. Wait for the person to finish.
• Do not assume things. Whenever in doubt, ask questions.
• Spend some quiet time every now and then out in the nature. Learn to listen to the voices of nature. This will help you fine tune your listening skills.
Every time someone speaks to you, remember a lot rides on you listening to that person. The person may be looking for encouragement from you. That person may need your help. That person may have an important message for you. That person may help you save time and money. That person may have to say something that may impact your life. So listen and listen till you understand the why and what the person is saying to you.