How many times have you been talking with someone and realized that you have no idea what they were just saying because you were too busy crafting your response? Why do we do this?
I think we do this for a variety of reasons. Sometimes we want to be right, we want to win an argument. Perhaps something was said that hurt us and we feel the urge to figure out how to defend ourselves. Other times we simply want to provide a good answer and that often requires some thought. Regardless of why we do this, it is more useful to ask ourselves these two questions: “Should we allow ourselves to continue this habit? Is it helpful to myself and the person speaking to me?” If you sit and think about these questions, I think you will come to the same conclusion that I did, that the answer to both is no.
If you try just listening and resist the tempation to think about how you will respond, you will find that you are able to respond better, provide better advice, learn more about other people and human behavior and more easily come to a win-win solution. Even if you could care less about the other person, by listening carefully you better prepare yourself to understand the other person’s thoughts, ideas and opinions. With a better understanding you can better communicate your side. Being a good listener is an essential skill for success in work, friendship, and romantic relationships,
When I first made the decision to become a better listener, it was very difficult to put into practice and I essentially made no progress. I tried different techniques and, in the end, what I found that was most effective was to simply practice in a comfortable and controlled environment. I taught my brain that the only thing it should do when someone is speaking to me is to listen carefully.
Here’s how to become a better listener: sit down with someone you are comfortable with, explain to them that you are practicing becoming a better listener and ask them to talk about anything they want for at least a minute. While they are talking, practice listening. Your only goal is to hear them out. If you find your mind wandering, just gently remind yourself that all you are doing is listening. When they finish speaking, respond. Do this for 10 minutes and you will begin to notice a difference. Practice for 10 minutes a day for a few days and you will teach your brain a new habit which you can then reinforce every time someone is talking to you.
Everyone wants to be understood. If you can show others that you understand what they are saying, they will be much more likely to work with you, compromise with you and help you. Be a good listener and you will be unique and people will be drawn to you. Give others your understanding and watch how it enhances every aspect of your life.