One of the most vital skills for any effective communicator is the have the power of listening. The skill of listening isn’t taught in school, and it’s something that should be developed more. Listening is a powerful skill that can be learned effectively and practiced. It’s amazing how much more respect and esteem you will get by listening rather than talking constantly.
Isn’t it funny how sometimes you can link a specific phrase to someone? I once knew a guy called Ray kept saying “I hear you” when he was listening to me talking. Even though I liked this characteristic, I often wondered whether he was saying that because he actually heard, or that he maybe disagreed with what I was saying. It may have just been a habit and he wasn’t listening anyway.
Either way, there is a big difference between hearing and listening. Hearing refers to the physical dimension of the hearing process, which is when sound waves strike the ear and the brain processes them into meaningful information. To “listen” actually involves far more than hearing what someone says. This will mean a person paying attention and focusing on the subject in order to understand and respond appropriately.
Understanding More Using The Power Of Listening
Humans have basic and complex needs. Among the most basic is the need to understand and to be understood. The most effective way to understand people is by listening to them. Not only that, when people realize you have truly listened to them, you’ll gain more than just their respect, they will value you and recognize your credibility to speak.
Consider you own feelings when someone really listens to what you have to say.
It makes you feel good doesn’t it? You actually feel understood and there is a better “connection” to the person who is listening. When they show interest, you feel they really care.
An Important Element Of The Power Of Listening Is The Ability To Attend.
To be able to be in “attend” mode is where we focus in on a message and filter out others that are distracting us. It’s being able to focus on what a person is saying, and ignoring everything around us that’s happening at the same time.
Someone said once that the reason history repeats itself is due no one listening the first time around. The first time I heard that, I realized history had a habit of repeating itself, especially around bedtime at home! That was when my kids practiced attending. Focusing on what they were doing (not homework I hasten to add), they would ignore me because every time I reminded them it was bedtime!
Our overwhelming urge to talk is one of the biggest distractions to attending.
The desire to talk is immense and it’s so powerful that while the other person is talking, we are actively thinking about what to say next, and waiting for our opportunity to speak. When we are focusing on what we are going to say or interject. Our attention drifts away from what the person is saying to our own thoughts. We may appear to be interested and attentive, but we can distracted by our thoughts or something else that’s happening at the same time so easily it’s frightening! This is perhaps the point where we do fall into hearing and not listening. Our attention has drifted onto other things and is therefore not concentrated on understanding and responding.
True listening is a skill that needs to be learned and practiced. This is because the mind functions seven times more quickly than it’s possible to speak. The mind needs to be slowed down so that we can focus on what the person is saying without paying attention to other thoughts or distractions that are irrelevant to the situation.
An Example Of The Power Of Listening And Building Rapport
This example comes from “The Success Principles” by Jack Canfield.
One thing Jack writes about in the book is how to use the power of listening to build rapport and connections with people. This is the result from a series of four questions used in Jack’s personal and business situations. The questions are asked one after another.
The first time he tried this was with his sister, Kim. He asked the first question and listened to her answer. When she finished, he asked the next question, and continued after he got the answer through all the questions.
After all this, Kim smiled said to him “That’s the best conversation I think we’ve ever had. I feel so clear and focused. I know exactly what I need to go and do now. Thank you” He was amazed as he hadn’t said a word except to ask the four questions, and had resisted the inclination to jump in with his own responses. Jack has found that this works every time and frequently uses this method.
It may be useful to look this up and craft your own questions. The important thing is to site and listen to the answers and avoid the urge to respond in any way. The answers given by the person can be just the thing they are actually looking for to gain clarity in a given situation. This seemed to be the case in the example of Jack Canfield’s sister.
Take a moment to think of a question, or ultimately a series of questions you could use to practice actively listening, and resisting the temptation to speak. When you have the opportunity, use your question or questions to experience a great way to build rapport with others through the power of listening.