There is a difference between hearing and listening. Listening well will transform your conversations, your relationships and your life.
Hearing is only the first step in the listening process. It involves receiving just enough to be able to repeat the words back. Once you hear something then you must understand it, evaluate it and then respond to it. Unfortunately we often move from hearing to responding without taking the time to understand or evaluate what the speaker is really saying.
Tips to become a better listener:
- Wait – until the other person is done speaking. Interrupting is one of the most common bad listening habits. It feels disrespectful to the speaker and it demonstrates that you are not listening well.
- Be Aware –you have assumptions, biases, beliefs and filters that distort what you are hearing. Summarize what you understand the other person is saying and repeat it back to them as a question so they can correct misinterpretations.
- Ask questions – be curious and work to discover the message the speaker is trying to convey.
- Focus – on the person and what they are saying. If you are distracted try to silently repeat the words you are hearing. You can also acknowledge the distraction, remove it and resume the conversation.
Have you heard the saying “you have two ears but only one mouth, because listening is twice as important as talking?” Use these tips to improve your listening and your life!