The world is in crisis…and the solution is simple. As our levels of stress go up, a sense of urgency is pushed out into the world. The biggest tragedy is that people are so busy talking they fail to listen at all.
I have watched and listened exhaustedly as people are frantic to be heard and almost consumed by the chatter while others are forming their rebuttals before thoughts or sentences are even completed. Everyone is talking and NO ONE is listening.
At times we are all guilty of it. It causes the collapse of relationships and careers. Communication is something we all should be trying to master. So as we are on the cusp of an all new “Oprah’s LifeClass”, it doesn’t hurt to remind ourselves of what it means to be a good listener.
Here are 10 simple tips to becoming a better listener:
- Remove the distractions. If the TV is flickering in the background and catches your eye…ask the person to hold on a moment and turn it off. Anything that catches your eye is catching your attention. It is rude to talk to someone and look over their shoulder the whole time. Position yourself or move to another room.
- But out. Make it a rule. When someone speaks to you, let them finish their initial thoughts before you “but” in. The chatter in your head will distract you from what they are saying. There is plenty of time for both of you to be heard.
- Work it out. Before heading into a long meeting, you should take a walk or move around. Getting in a few deep breathes before any long conversation will help get your blood flowing and allow you to focus.
- Don’t assume anything. It isn’t surprising that as we listen our brain starts to sort it out. But be careful. Quite often we jump to the wrong conclusions.
- Turn it off. If you are heading into a conversation, turn your phone or technology. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to have a conversation with someone who keeps checking their phone for texts.
- Be kind. You don’t have to fix someone’s problem. You don’t have to have sage advice. What most people are looking for is someone who hears them and understands.
- Take care of it. Try not to head into a conversation when something is looming over you. If you need to make a cancel an appointment or pay a bill first, it is better to do it than sit there unable to focus. Explain that you want to give them your full attention and do it fast. Then come back ready to give the person your full attention.
- Show you are listening. Non-verbal cues are an important part of communication. When you are talking, be sure to nod, smile and give the occasional “yes” and “uh huh.”
- Be patient. Everyone wants to be heard. Those who are typically rushed know that you aren’t listening and in turn they try even harder to be heard. If you have someone in your life that you haven’t given the time to…grab a cup of tea and take a seat. Show them they matter and truly listen. You will find in time you both will communicate better.
- Stay on topic. It’s common for conversations to go off-topic but try to keep the main idea in mind. This will allow you to pull the conversation back around and ultimately get to the point faster.
Communication is the most important skill in our lives. It is how we show love, disappointment, curiosity, kindness, everything. However, as a society we seem to be caught in a “me” state instead of a “we” state. Every day we teach people how to talk to us. In order to change the way the world communicates, we have to start one person at a time. Let your voice be the example.