People in general, are not taught how to listen. Whilst we have 2 ears and one mouth, we don’t necessarily use them well and often get the ratio the wrong way round. It’s useful to understand what can get in the way of listening effectively.
- Rehearsing – We’re often so busy thinking about what we want to say next that we don’t fully listen to the other person. We’re too busy filling time rehearsing our own point and waiting for them to shut up so we can speak!
- Wanting to be right– We may also be too concerned with how we measure up to the speaker; comparing ourselves, our points, our opinions and views and competing to try and win or be right. In this case we often end up debating or arguing rather than truly listening to the other person.
- Interrupting– We’re so eager to add our thoughts or jump in with the solution we don’t fully listen so whilst time saving might be the intention, interrupting often causes more problems than it solves.
- Filtering– We’ve all heard of selective listening where we just focus on the things we want to hear and ignore the rest, it can also be referred to as filtering. This makes it difficult for to truly understand someone else’s perspective, opinion or viewpoint because we only hear the things that we want or think are important.
- Day dreaming– We drift off into our own thoughts when someone says something that sparks an unconnected thought. We therefore miss half the conversation.
- Advising– Our intention is good, we just want to help but sometimes we jump in before the other person has provided all the pertinent information. This can leave us at crossed purposes.
- Making assumptions– we often show our personal bias through the assumptions we make or conclusions we draw eg we may interpret someone’s emotion as unnecessary and dismiss it but it may actually provide more context than if we were to assume it wasn’t important just because that’s not the way we would react.
- Missing the point– we sometimes don’t listen to the big picture or how a point fits into the big picture and therefore miss the point of a conversation.
If we can become more aware of our listening mistakes, we can reduce them. Effective listening has been proven to:
- help resolve conflicts
- improve efficiency by averting potential mistakes and misunderstandings
- save time
- build relationships.
So the better we listen, the more benefits we will reap. Happy listening!
For more information or training in listening skills contact firstname.lastname@example.org