Are you actually listening to me?!
- Hazel Butterfield
- 18 January 2019 12:01
“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” ― Stephen R. Covey
How many times have you come away from a conversation and not really taken away the meaning of what was trying to be conveyed, only to potentially have it dawn on you at a later date? Whether that is with your children, a work colleague, your boss, the customer rep on the phone or even your friends. Your mind is elsewhere, or you’re planning your response rather than taking on-board their perspective.
Maybe, like me your brain has a tendency to fail you and therefore you know if you don’t get your point across pretty quickly – it will disappear?! You know if you wait for ‘your turn’ to speak, your incredibly interesting point, has gone. Lost into the abyss.
Then there are the automatic conversations where you engage less as you assume the outcome; regular conversations at the school gates, your mum relaying her latest purchase from TK Maxx, the kids explaining why they need more Match Attax, etc. These habits can breed and become too perfunctory.
One of my bad habits is instantly not hearing or actively listening and registering/remembering somebody’s name. I have a weird block. It’s a terrible trait. When I moved into my new home recently, I actually got in to the habit of putting names of people who introduced themselves in my notes section on my iPad. Ironically, the more practices I put in place to rectify the issue, the less it’s required. I connect on Facebook/ Instagram so I have a reference etc.. Honestly, I can instantly forget someone’s name as they introduce themselves to me. This causes me to not completely listen to what they have to say as I’m trying to find ways to ensure I remember their name!
We are all so busy and multitasking seems like a constant must. Creating to-do lists in our head. Who is missing out? You, me, us. Really listening to someone is such a great compliment to give.
“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”
― Leo Buscaglia
Let’s try an actually be in the moment more, not thinking about the past or fretting about the future. Listen to what is going on now.
- Put your phone away when out for dinner.
- Turn notifications off, even just for a while if you are supposed to be engaging elsewhere.
- Actually look at who is speaking to you. (Crazy right?!)
- You don’t have to respond with a similar story to show recognition of what someone is saying. It’s not about you. I am guilty of doing this, when somebody tells me about something that happened to them, I respond with a similar story. The reasoning behind it being that I want to either show an commonality or display my understanding of what they’ve ‘experienced’. To respond in some way. Although well intentioned, it’s moving away from what they wanted to talk about and for you to listen to. I’m working on this. Try “I hear what your saying, that must have been terrible (upsetting/exciting etc..) for you”.
- It’s a process, if you’re rubbish at listening, fake it until you make it. Try making an observation on what something somebody has just imparted to you. Slowly but surely (hopefully) it will become a habit.
However, make sure you are listening to the right people, those that would intently do the same for you.
Things not to listen to:
Listening to your breath blog.