Have you ever wondered why you have two ears but only one mouth? I believe it’s because we were created to listen more than we talk. Ironically, most of us do just the opposite.
Have you ever been in a one-way conversation? You know the ones—where your conversation partner is happy to talk about themselves without ever inquiring about you or asking for feedback. How did you feel when you walked away? Did you feel enriched, acknowledged, vindicated? Most likely, the answer is no. Conversations like this tend to exhaust you.
Being a good listener is a true art and something to strive to do. We all need to be better listeners, especially today when so many people have so much to share in their complicated lives. You can make someone feel better just by listening. Sometimes it’s not about fixing or giving advice; listening is a powerful act in and of itself.
Whatever your role is in life, whether you’re the president of a company, a manager, a stay-at-home mom, teacher, doctor, student, friend, or spouse, mastering the art of listening is essential. If you can master this gift, you will be more effective.
Like any new habit, listening takes practice and refinement. But I think you’ll notice how your relationships get better and mutual respect happens organically.
How to Listen
- FOCUS- Focus as you listen and give all your attention to the person speaking. Don’t try and be funny and ready to jump in-just concentrate on what your partner is saying. Often, while we wait for the other person to stop talking to interject, we miss what they are saying completely.
- CONNECT—Be authentic and genuine. Throw out the phoniness. Don’t turn on autopilot with insincere reactions.
- BE OPEN MINDED-Throw your judgments out the door. Be open to the possibility that we don’t know what the other person will say. This is so true in relationships. We always think we know what the other person is thinking or feeling. By keeping an open mind, we allow ourselves the opportunity to be surprised, delighted, and educated on our partner’s state of mind.
- VALIDATE-Summarize in your own words what you just heard. Validating what the other person says encourages them to keep sharing and builds trust. You don’t have to give advice or fix anything; just listen and acknowledge.
If there are roughly 8 billion people in the world, then that means there are around 16 billion ears ready to listen. Give the people in your life a chance to express themselves. You’ll be amazed at what you learn when you actively listen.