Secret by DuquesaMercedes
How often have you thought that you should have listened to someone? This could come in many forms, such as forgetting an important fact due to not actively listening to the person or you might wish you had taken their advice if you had listened. I find myself very guilty of using conversations to express myself. This isn’t a bad thing, but I wait for my turn to speak rather than focusing on the person speaking. We often like to share our stories and opinions and this becomes a problem when we fail to listen to other stories and opinions because we are focused on ourselves. If we just stop trying to hog the conversation and listen more then we could find new perspectives and insight that we wouldn’t have noticed otherwise.
When we get into a conversation about opposing ideas we are more likely to be focused on how to prove our point rather than using active listening to consider the other side. Find any conversation about the presidential election with opposing ideas and you will have a hard time finding someone that is truly willing to listen to the other side. This means that we are missing important information because we aren’t listening to it. There is the assumption that our viewpoint is right, so we don’t allow the other viewpoint. You aren’t hurting only yourself, but others too.
The conversations that you have are very important. They are your main interaction with others, so you would want to make the most out of those conversations. By trying to improve your active listening skills you will be giving yourself many benefits. Here are a few:
Others notice – I can tell when someone isn’t trying to listen to what I have to say. It isn’t a nice feeling because it feels like my opinion doesn’t matter. I am less likely to value the other person’s opinion if they do not take the time to value mine. This can hurt relationships you have with others. Many couples complain that their partner doesn’t listen to them enough. This tends to hurt others feelings.
Give a little and you get more back – I am sure you have the greatest story to tell and you are dying to tell it once your friend is done telling his story. The problem is that your friend doesn’t feel like you listened to his story so he isn’t going to listen as hard to your story. The more interested you seem in other people then the more interested they will be in you. There must be one person that you love talking to because they seem so intrigued in your stories. Once they start telling you something then you feel more interested because they made some effort so you can too.
You miss out on great details – We all learn best from others. I know that I can fix a computer better if someone tells me how. There are multiple opportunities to learn things in each conversation. You can learn a little about politics, a different job, awesome hobbies, and much more. Let’s say that Jane is talking about her weekend and finding a great place to pick fruit for a low cost, but you aren’t actively listening since you want to tell her about your weekend. You missed the chance for some great cheap fruit. You can’t experience everything in life, so you have to live through other people. This means that you have to really take interest in their activities as If you did them. The hiking trip that John took had to be great though you might not get to do it, but you can listen about the details of it to feel like you got to experience a little part of it. If you succeed doing everything that you are told about then that is quite the extraordinary feat, but until that happens then you can get tiny experiences through listening to others.
Anticipating what will be said isn’t effective – Some people are predictable, but that doesn’t mean that they will always be predictable. You can’t be in someone else’s head, so you shouldn’t try. You will start to hear the things that you think they will say rather than the things that are actually being said. You make yourself bored with the conversation because you assume that it is predictable. Try to act as if this is something totally new to you. Don’t focus on what will be said you should focus on what is being said.
Knowing the full story helps solve problems – Not having all the details can make a problem seem different than it really should be. You might be helping a friend with a relationship problem, but if you interrupt before the friend is done then you will not have all the details needed to really be much of a help. We all like to try to help quickly and we assume that we can fill in the blanks if we know the first part (see last tip: don’t assume you know what they will say). If someone starts off saying that they can’t find time for their work then you might assume they are lacking productivity skills, but in reality they are quite productive but commit to more things than they should. You won’t know this if you assume they need some help with productivity skills. Wait until the very end to throw in your two cents.
We often talk to learn about other things. This could be a simple conversation about hobbies or a business meeting to form a new plan. A conversation is an exchange of ideas and opinions. You already know exactly what you will be saying, so why is it so interesting? You have heard it, because you thought it! You should be bored with what you will say and far more interested in the other person since you don’t know what they will say. Often times you don’t even need to really throw in your own opinions or ideas. If they don’t benefit the conversation then try to see if you can get by with just the other person talking. This means that you have your attention on them, use clarifying questions, ask open ended questions, and inquire. Only ask questions rather than statements. See if you can limit your talking to the bare minimum and see the difference in your conversations and the way others act.