Communication is so easy, right?
You can take classes in communication to learn how to catch the attention of your audience. You'll be taught to get your message across clearly, convey your thoughts correctly and make a good first impression. Along those same lines you'll learn how to make a presentation, and be successful at public speaking.
The problem is that "active listening" is not usually part of the learning model but without it you cannot truly be an effective communicator.
Too many times though we are more concerned about what we're going to say next that we don't hear what is actually being said.
Have you ever started to argue with someone only to be told that you couldn't have been listening since you just argued their point? I have and I know I'm not the only one. You get so wrapped up in the fact that what you have to say is more important that you end up catch only bits and pieces of what is actually being said to you. Those bits and pieces are enough in your mind to tell you where they are going and you're ready with a response as soon as you can jump in.
Learning to listen will make you more effective on your job, in your ability to persuade and influence others and in your relationships so here's a few tips to consider.
- Focus your attention on your "audience." Allowing distractions indicates to your audience that there is something more important than them. That blank stare you give them when your mind goes somewhere else for the duration is a communication killer. You don't want them to get the feeling that you didn't hear a word they said.
- Don't be a silent partner. Show that you have been listening by engaging in their end of the conversation... this may be as simple as nodding your head and making eye contact to repeating back to them a portion of what they said in your own paraphrase. This shows that not only have you been listening but that you understand them too.
Honestly, all of this is summed up in the Golden Rule :
The cry of our hearts is to be heard... and more so....