Most of us believe that we’re attentive, but there is a huge difference between being quiet while someone speaks, and the skill of active listening.
What is active listening?
You listen with focus. You hear and let the person’s words fill you without passing judgment or thinking about what you’ll say next. You are 100% there.
It’s an art and it takes practice to become proficient.
I listen! Yeah, that’s what I use to tell myself.
But my listening skills sucked.
See if you employ any of these tactics:
When we argue, it’s a sign that we are not listening.
When we don’t understand, we may not be listening.
When we interrupt, we are not listening.
I have tended to use tactic number three, interruption.
First, it is rude. Butting in or talking over people sends the message that you know better and what they have to say has little value.
They feel that they have little value.
Not the message I’d wanted to send.
I worked hard to learn to listen with focus and intent. I had to invest myself and shut my mouth and my judgments. Yes, it was difficult, but it was the best thing I’ve done for my relationships.
Why did I call the list ‘tactics’?
Because it can be a way to protect ourselves from being marginalized and ignored, it’s the three-year-old inside yelling, look at me!
When I stopped acting like a spoiled child, my relationships improved. How do you feel when someone listens to you, makes eye contact, nods, and asks questions that bring clarity. How do you feel? I feel loved and cared for.
I decided that I wanted to make others feel—valued.
This week, work toward active listening, time yourself as you focus for a solid 2 minutes. It’s much longer than you’d think. Nudge the speaker if needed with questions that bring clarity. It gets easier with practice.
People feel close to and trust those who listen with their heart. We feel accepted. If you want to improve your relationships, love others by listening so they know that they matter to you.
And you will matter to them.