Pauses are often viewed these days as “awkward silence”. We scramble to fill it with noise… the noise of any kind, beneficial or not. Our lives are scripted to background music on our Insta-stories. Quiet even makes some of us nervous, uncomfortable. We conversate, but do not “saturate”. What I mean by this is we do not truly immerse ourselves in conversation as some of the generations that have gone before us. The technology wasn’t there to distract us. Before we address Active Listening and what it is, let us address the reasons why we listen.
Why we Listen
- To glean information
- To understand, wrap our heads around the subject matter
- For pleasure and enjoyment
Bad Listening Habits – What are they?
- Looking away – not focusing on the person speaking
- Multi-tasking – fiddling on your phone, etc.
- Talking over someone as they are trying to speak
- Pre-occupation – being wrapped up in your own thought process and focusing on your next thought or response
Ok, Active Listening – What is it and what are the benefits?
Active Listening has several key components. They are:
- Sole Focus
- Eyes fixed on the person speaking
- Preferably minimize possible distractions prior to beginning the conversation
- Practice accessible body language
- Appropriate and timely facial expressions – smiles, frowns, cringes, etc.
- Acknowledgement beyond the slim bounds of “hmm”, “uh-huh” and nodding your head yes or no
- Active feedback during intentional breaks in the conversation
- Instead of interrupting or confronting, ask for clarification – ask insightful questions
- Openness and neutrality in your responses
Now, the BENEFITS:
- Clarifying information wins out over misunderstandings and undue confrontation
- It builds a basis of trust between individuals, strengthening bonds of friendship or business affiliates/connections
- It attributes value from one person to another
- It takes us away from our pre-conceived mindsets and open our minds to other perspectives
- The more we listen, the more compassion we develop for other’s needs
- Think Golden Rule principle – how we want to feel is most likely how others want to feel. We want to be heard, paid attention to, valued, to feel important.
We exhibit these needs in everything we do these days from our posts on Instagram, Facebook, our Snaps, our Tik-Toks…we seek validation and approval. Let’s give it forward in how we treat others that are communicating with us and become better communicators ourselves, better professionals….maybe simply better humans.