You can work on specific behaviors to improve your listening. Consider the following element of listening: your frame of mind, or listening mode. Your listening mode impacts your ability to listen well.
Examples of listening modes:
- Disengaged – your body is present but your mind is not. You hear the words the person is saying and can even repeat them but you are not really listening because your mind is on something else.
- Competitive – you are listening with the intention of “topping” what the other person is saying. Whether its accomplishments, possessions or relationships the underlying goal is to prove that you are better than the other person.
- Combative – this is an argumentative mode. You listen for flaws or weaknesses in what is being said and wait for an opening to point them out. You are constantly formulating your point of view and creating comebacks that attack the speaker or their message.
- Passive – you listen and seek to understand. You don’t ask questions or validate your understanding.
- Active – you demonstrate your interest in what the speaker thinks, feels or means in their message. You restate what you hear to reflect the message back to the speaker for validation. The validation is what makes this the most effective listening mode and distinguishes it from all the other modes.
The objective of understanding your listening mode is to ensure that you are in the proper frame of mind to achieve results. Is your goal to be right, or is your goal to maintain and build a relationship? Too often people enter conversations without examining their listening mode and how that mode will impact the outcome of the conversation.
Remember, listening well will transform your conversations, your relationships and your life.