Active listening is probably one of the most difficult activities in the whole life. Today more than ever our ability to listen systematically decreases. Surrounded by constant noise, information flow, and numerous distractions, we tend to switch off rather than to listen carefully. This way we lose a significant amount of precious information.
We are given two ears, but only one mouth. This is because God knew that listening was twice as hard as talking.Anon
You might think that the art of excellent speaking facilitates communication in business so does in personal life. Nothing could be further from the truth. Effective communication rules state that the right ratio should be 80% of listening time and 20% of speaking time. Many of us are taught that listening is the time to concentrate on formulating the answer, formulating the opinion, formulating the comment. Many of us are taught that remaining silent while listening means that we have nothing to say. That we’re boring. That we’re ignorant. Many of us believe it’s better to say anything than to say nothing. The outcome is opposite.
Adding our comments, interruptions, own examples to what the person says doesn’t prove we’re interested in the topic. It might sound like an artificial interest and sometimes it’s even rude. I’ve got to know several people in my midst who were using this strategy thinking it was the right thing to do. Thinking that they’ve been entertaining the conversation. Probably, they didn’t know how frustrating it was for the person who genuinely wished to expressed her thoughts or feelings.
Instead of active listening, we feel the urge to make reference to everything we hear. To determine our position. To demonstrate our knowledge. Even if we’re not asked for. The result is that we focus on ourselves, not on our interlocutor. We don’t open our heart and our ears to what other person wants to tell us. We lose a chance to get the right comprehension of what someone shares with us.
When you talk, you’re only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.Dalai Lama
We prefer to be good speakers than listeners. We believe that speaking makes us important. That it’s the only way to feel heard, noticed or regarded. Many people carry inside them a fear that without emphasizing constantly their presence, they’ll disappear. They’ll become invisible. They’ll cease to exist. Nobody will be paying attention to them. It’s like with kids who feel unimportant and who are afraid of being abandoned or unwanted. They attempt to draw attention by all means.
That’s why many people believe they have to have an opinion on every subject and voice it out whenever possible. They believe that only weak people listen while strong ones speak. The reality is different. Stupid people shout without listening to others. Smart people listen to others before they convey their point of view. Not because they need others to adjust their beliefs. It’s because they want to clearly understand other people and other points of view.
One is for sure: active listening is indispensable in order to get to the core of the issues. If you want to understand someone or you want to understand yourself, pure facts will not be of great help. They’ll give you a scrap of the real motives.
Despite the importance of active listening in the relationships with other people, today we’re going to focus on 4 other areas where active listening plays an inestimable role and brings the most incredible results. Find out how you can increase your personal efficiency by embracing active listening skill to your daily routine.
1. Listen to your spirited mind
One of the most incredible mystery is that your mind has got the answers to all your questions. Your mind has got the solutions to all your problems. It’s an amazing source of all the necessary knowledge you need to possess in order to live fully your life. The key is to listen actively to your mind. It’s not without a reason that the concept of mindfulness has reached such spectacular popularity.
The very first step is to trust your intuition. Throughout various occurrences, I learned that my intuition is my friend. It tries to save me whenever I’m in troubles and it tries to push me forward whenever I risk missing a wonderful opportunity for growth. Nobody knows what’s beneficial for me as much as my intuition does. It’s a part of myself which shares the most valuable piece of advice. Whenever I follow my intuition I feel a great relief and a deep peace with my inner self.
Another step is to keep your mind open. Slown down. Take a break. Find a quiet place. Go to nature if necessary. Calm down your thoughts. Pay attention. Now, you’re ready to listen. I practice it when I get confused about what shall I do in a specific situation. My spirited mind knows the answer. It knows what’s best for me. It helps to take faster and better decisions. It helps to solve problems more effectively. It brings pure happiness.
2. Listen to your body
Your body is a miracle. Your body knows exactly what you need in order to stay healthy and balanced. Your body sends you messages every day. Sometimes it might be a green light. Other times it might be a red flag. It informs you precisely what’s going on well and what’s going on wrong. There’s only one condition: you need to listen. You need to let your body speak instead of ignoring its signals.
Respect what does your body have to tell you. People around may tell you the opposite: you need to work more, you need to exercise more, you need to diet more, more and more. Don’t listen to them. Listen to your body first. Listen to its wisdom. Your body knows how to heal you. How to take care of you. How to make you thrive.
My favorite book in this matter I regularly come back to is You can heal your life whose author is Louise L. Hay. I owe to this book a great understanding of how to listen to my body and how to communicate with it. I must say I was strongly surprised that all I learned from the book really worked. The result is that I rarely have to take any medicines when my body gets sick or I suffer from other conditions. Listening attentively to my body makes me understand what does my body need in order to strengthen it. Be it more sleep, herbal tea, low-fat diet, fresh air, more water, stretching or whatever feels right at the particular moment. Your body will tell you everything you need to know.
3. Listen to right people
Obviously, if we listened actively to all people, it would result in a mess. Not everyone has something valuable to say. Many people talk just for the sake of talking regardless of how nonsensical it is. Listening attentively to all people could be catastrophic for our mental health. Select carefully people who’re worth listening actively. People who’re rich in experiences, knowledge, skills. Those people will empower you to look farther than anybody else does.
If you encounter such a person on your way, don’t miss the opportunity for growth. Open your heart and your ears to what the person says. Mute your phone or put it away. Minimize possible interruptions. Remember that much of communication happens on a non-verbal level. Listen with all your face. Use eye contact. Nod. Smile if appropriate. Use your body language. Lean forward. Don’t start your topic after the person finished the sentence. Give it a thought. Don’t fight the silence. Encourage the person to give you more details. Ask open questions. Take the most of it.
You’ll see how one session of active listening may transform your life. How rechargeable it might be for your energy.
4. Listen smart
If you listen smart, active listening saves your time. You get to know more. You get to know better. You get to know faster. Neglecting important details often cause additional troubles. Eventually, you spend double time clarifying the issues or misunderstandings. You cannot imagine how beneficial it might be to read between the lines when listening actively. Picking up hidden messages. Getting into the essence of what you want to know.
Focus on specific words. Tones. Context. It’ll tell you a lot about someone’s feelings and emotions. Find something unique in what or how another person says. Some things are unspeakable. But active and attentive listening can get you there. What’s more, it opens up another person to share with you much more than it would normally be the case. It builds a deep connection which pays off the effort.
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