Are you a good listener?
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.



LL Muir
02/11/2013 8:09pm

I remember needing to stand on the table to be heard by my little family. I don't know that I've grown up so much as gotten to big to be stomping around on tables!

Good advice, though.

02/12/2013 6:46am

You always make me smile. It's great to be heard, stand on a table, shout from the roof, what ever it takes. Listening is something else.
I know you do a fine job of that. Hugs and best to you at LTUE.
I'll be there.

02/11/2013 8:54pm

Great post. I need to be more conscientious (?) about my listening skills. I always smile when Judge Judy tells those in her court room to put on their listening ears. I think I'd be smart to invest in a pair..
Thank you, Sandy. I always come away with an 'oh yeah' feeling from your posts.

02/12/2013 6:48am

Thanks for supporting the blog. I know it's crazy at your house and ear plugs might be a better investment over listening ears until the kitchen is finished. Grins.
I'm glad that you enjoy the posts.

02/12/2013 4:34am

I'm also very guilty of #3. Thanks for the reminder! I'm going to work on that:-)

02/12/2013 6:50am

I think part of it is my never ending impatience. I want to get to the problem, fix it and move on. Too much to do, but that's all about me and not the speaker. I'm still working on it. Sigh.
I'm sure you'll beat it. You're that kind of girl.

02/12/2013 6:09am

I actually had to learn to interrupt in order to be heard as the only female at an all military male unit. It's a hard habit to break.

02/12/2013 6:53am

I didn't have military experience, but to heard over siblings, it was interrupt or be ignored. I think many women have a version of this experience. It's tough to break the habit, but it is possible. Being mindful of it is the first step.
Thanks for sharing!

02/12/2013 7:24am

Great advice--interrupting is rude and besides, you miss out on so much!

02/12/2013 1:32pm

True! That is the point. You don't learn anything when you're talking.
Great comment.

02/12/2013 7:45am

I love this post, Sandy. I totally agree that listening improves relationships, adds value...and breaks down communication barriers around the world. As an international speaker, I covered a lot of ground. Frequently, I started in Southhamption, England then worked my way up through Scotland. I noticed, the farther north I went, the thicker the accent. Once I was presenting to a group of several hundred about the benefits of listening when managing conflict. Microphones were set up in the aisles so the participants could make comments, ask questions, etc. Most participants chose to shout thier comments versus disturbing others by climbing over others. In one case, with distance and a thick accent between us, I struggled to hear her comment correctly. I asked her to repeat...twice. When this didn't resolve the problem, I raced up a million steps to close the gap to hear her. Once I reached her row, she grinned sweetly and in her most pronounced accent said two words...aaaaac-tiiive liiiiistennnning! On that day, in that huge auditorium we all learned the importance of aaaaac-tiiive liiiiistennning and how important "going the distance" to close the gaps of communication is to understanding one another.

02/12/2013 1:34pm

Fantastic comment, Jude! It's a post in it's self. thank you for sharing your wisdom and adding so much to the blog.

Hugs my friend!

02/12/2013 9:26am

Ugh! Hubby and I are constantly working on this and it doesn't seem to ever help or get better when it really matters. :/ When they say a marriage has to be worked at...too true.

02/12/2013 1:36pm

It's true that the people we want to be closest to, are the ones we have the grandest struggle to communicate with. I have the most trouble with my husband as well. He runs old tapes in his head and comes to some very false conclusions. It's a process.

02/12/2013 9:37am

"You're not listening to me" comes up a lot during arguments between my husband and me. It's not so much listening as understanding what's behind the words.

02/12/2013 1:38pm

Exactly! Marriage seems to push this to the limits. My husband often hears what's running in his head rather than what is spoken. I often have to remind him that where he's going with the conversation is not what was said. This can happen to all of us and it's great to remember that listen is more than the spoken word.

02/12/2013 10:05am

Excellent points! Things we can work on always :)

02/12/2013 1:39pm

I know I'm still working on it. Thanks for the comment!
I hope your communications are all good.

02/12/2013 10:13am

So true. In the last three years, I think I've "grown up", hope I did. I read Steven Covey's book, the 7 habits, and I worked on being a better person. Still working on it.

Listening is key with loved ones.

02/12/2013 1:42pm

I've read Covey's book. A good choice. I believe in constantly striving to be more. That is a life long goal and a happy one. Thanks for the comments and your support.

02/12/2013 2:48pm

Great post, Sandy. Listening is lost skill with many people. My day job relies exclusively on listening...to the spoken and unspoken for me to provide the best level of service. I guess it has overflowed into my everyday life as well. Thanks for the reminders.

02/12/2013 6:22pm

Thanks for the support Kim! You're a terrific listener and full of wisdom.
Some of that must be from your ability to actively listen.
Best to you, Sweety.

Donna Velleman
02/13/2013 5:23am

I used to be a better listener than I am now. I interrupt also and sometimes I'm thinking of what I want to say while the other person is talking. I know - not good. I've realized this but have to keep reminding myself ofthis.

Thanks for a great post.

02/13/2013 6:27am

Knowing there's an issue is half the battle. Listening is an acquired skill that you can choose to replace the interruption habit. Just stop your thoughts when you catch yourself and focus. This isn't easy.
I'm still battling my brain. But the rewards are worth the effort. Hugs to you. I know you can overcome anything. You write, so I know that you're a tough gal. Best success to you, Sweety!

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