One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.
~ Bryant H. McGill
We have all had that uncomfortable conversation where we look into the eyes of our cohort and realize: “She’s not hearing a thing I’m saying”. Perhaps she’s been reminded of her own similar story and is formulating that talk in her mind. Or perhaps her mind has slipped off into her extensive to do list for later this afternoon. While this behavior says more about what’s happening with listener than it does about us (READ: the Four Agreements), the result is we may feel frustrated, disconnected and even disrespected.
Listening is an important skill to be mastered, as we all want to feel heard and understood.
Here are 5 simple tips to hone your own Listening skills:.
Tip 1: Be Present Set aside any distractions: tv, cell phone, even the radio can pull your mind away from what is being conveyed. I used to have an associate who would pick up her cell phone when it rang, whenever and wherever we were, and proceed to have long conversations with the caller in my presence. Needless to say, she is not someone I spend much time with anymore.
Tip 2: Listen to Understand Be curious! It’s not necessary to be remain completely silent as the other person talks. Focus on what you believe are key points in what is being said and ask a simple question, incorporating what you heard into the ask . “So your sister and her family are arriving on the 14th?”
Tip 3: Hold Space Don’t jump in with a solution unless asked. Sometimes we just need to vent. Women especially work things through by talking. Nodding your head, murmuring “hmmmm” may be enough to let her know you are paying attention. When she pauses, give her 30 seconds of silence to process what she said and the space to continue.
Tip 4: Empathize It doesn’t matter whether you agree with what he is saying or not. People need to know that they are heard and understood. Know that what they are saying has meaning to them. Imagine yourself in their place and why they are sharing this information with you.
Tip 5: The Power of Touch Don’t underestimate the comfort of a quick squeeze of her hand or rub of her arm. As human beings, we need physical touch to thrive. There is no quicker way to feel acknowledgement in our emotional connection than by physical touch.
You may have heard it said that most people listen to respond, rather than to hear what is being said. Creating a two way conversation, with a speaker and a listener, is essential to further community. Luckily, listening is a skill that with practice, we can learn to master.
Toward hope and healing for us all,
Rose Tenaglia Dunn is the Founder of
LyceumLIVE: Your Resource for Hope and Healing.
an online directory of the latest and greatest books, blogs, people, podcasts and websites
dedicated to the positive transformation of our world.