How often do you really listen when someone is speaking? More importantly, how often do you fail to listen?
When your spouse is trying to make weekend plans, during a business meeting, when your child is complaining about school – are you listening? When you’re really busy, when you’re rushed and you can’t – or don’t – quiet your mind to be present – are you listening?
Think of the last time you felt someone was talking at you, instead of to you. The person you are talking with is obviously preoccupied with his/her own agenda and doesn’t seem to be appropriately responding either verbally or through eye contact. He seems to be thinking of what to say next while waiting for you to finish what you’re saying. Or maybe he said all the right things, but you never felt that satisfying connection of genuine communication. Something was missing in your interaction.
What about the last time someone gave you a compliment? Did you absorb the intent behind what he or she said? Did you dismiss it? Did you brush it off, cordially implying the other person had no authority to say something nice about you?
Many things can get in the way of good communication. A hectic schedule, an overworked mind, an effort or pretense of humility… all of these things tell the recipient of your communication that they are not saying anything important to you. You don’t have time to listen. You are too tired to listen. Or, you think that what’s being said has no merit.
This leads to the question: How much of your communication goes only one way; is focused only around yourself and what you want to get across, or how you want to be perceived? Try taking a break from an egocentric point of view. Listen to what another person is saying to you – really listen. Listen to the messages being communicated through tone, body language and eye contact, as well as through words. Take just a few moments and honor those you speak to by making them the most important thought in your brain.
Intently listening to someone is the greatest gift you can give to that person. So, make a sincere effort to listen and connect with the people who are talking to you. You will be amazed at how positively it affects the way others see you and the way you make others feel! Your self-image will improve too, as you notice genuine communication being reciprocated.
By taking steps to improve your listening skills, you can become a catalyst for authentic connection with everyone around you.