Most individuals speak at a rate of 2.5 words per second, often in a noisy atmosphere with less than crisp diction. We are usually unaware how unclear our communication can be. The most effective element in good communication is listening. Listening is spry in the sense that it’s an active process that requires us to listen and think about what others are saying to us at the same time and listener tries to understand what the other individual is thinking or feeling and attempting to see things from the speaker’s perspective. Imagine that you are talking to your colleague or family member and you can tell that they aren’t listening to you. Maybe they seem inattentive, their body language suggests they are bored or they begin to look at their phone while you are talking. Has this ever happened to you? If so, you probably remember feeling disappointed, sad or angry that the other person wasn’t listening.
Listening to others when they speak is a sign of respect and a skill that will lead to deeper and better relationships. You’ll also probably learn a lot more about your friends and your environment by actively listening to others. Being an active listener means paying close attention to others, including to non-verbal cues, restraint judgement and having a willingness to understand another’s perspective. Emotion expressed non-verbally can be more telling than the words people speak. Focus on tone of voice, pace of speech, facial expressions and gestures. Listen to hear the meaning behind what’s being said. It helps you to summarize what you’re hearing and reflect the feelings expressed. When giving feedback, make it seem like it’s coming from an ally rather than an adversary.
Listening with full attention means you are communicating respect. By offering speakers respect, you are likely to gain theirs in return. By being respectful while someone is speaking demonstrates that you value people by giving them your full attention. Knowing more about people is helpful in your professional life as well as personal life. Imagine the benefits when you understand your colleagues, manager, customers, partner, friends and family members better. Careful listening helps you clearly understand what people are trying to say and therefore assists to avoid some of the confusion, misunderstandings and potential conflicts that are common in conversations. Careful listening offers an opportunity to really understand. People want to do business with people they like. You may also find that as you listen to people more, youfind more in common, really understand their views and actually, you like them more. Listening creates a feeling of respect, connection and goodwill in personal and professional relationships. Improve your relationships by listening non-judgmentally to what others have to say. The more you listen without judgment, the more freedom speakers have to find their own solutions to problems.
“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”