We live in a world where everything you could want is literally at your finger tips and self gratification can be almost instant. A button push can order your food or purchase your next desire on a website. If your having a bad day a cute selfie can perhaps bring a bevy of compliments to brighten your mood. With all the ease of access centered around meeting your needs as quickly and efficiently as possible, have we as a species become self centered? Are we still capable of truly putting others before ourselves as our first reaction? Some individuals sure can and that is evident in this community.
The one thing I see repeatedly from society though, is that people have forgotten how to listen. It seems that most times people are listening with the intent of forming a response rather than truly hearing what another is saying. With that said I wanted to take a moment and remind people, and myself, about how to truly hear someone without the filter of “how do i reply?” Here are a few simple ideas on how to better accomplish that goal.
Why do we listen anyways?
- Obtaining information
How To Listen Effectively
Sounds easy right? Did you know that studies suggest that your average human only retains about 25% of all the information they hear? Maybe it’s not so easy after all and the brain like any other muscle can be trained with exercise. Yeap, you can actually train your brain to retain a considerable amount more! Here are five easy steps to do exactly that.
- Look at the person speaking to you directly.
- Clear your mind of distracting thoughts.
- Avoid mentally preparing a rebuttal as this is extremely distracting and you may miss out on some vital information that completely negates your rebuttal anyways!
- Tune in to what the person speaking to you is saying. Ignore side conversations. If your having a serious conversation over the mic, hit pause or head to the home screen, perhaps invite the person you’re speaking to over to a private party.
- Body language says a lot. The crook of a curious eyebrow, a heavy sigh, learn to recognize and read the speakers body language to better focus on the message at hand.
Show the person speaking to you that you are actually interested in what they are saying to you. Nobody wants to talk to a wall. Here are a few easy ways to show someone speaking that you are engaged in the conversation.
- Nod occasionally
- Smile and use appropriate facial expressions
- Body language is key, make sure that your posture is “open” and receptive. Eye contact goes a long way. If eye contact is difficult for you, then watch the speakers lips. (The very slight variation in your eye angle isn’t very noticeable.)
- Encourage the speaker to continue with small verbal cues like “yes” and ” uh-huh.”
Small statements like “what you’re saying is…” go a long way in showing that you are receiving and comprehending the idea being relayed to you. They also provide the speaker with a chance to rectify any potential misunderstanding right there on the spot. This will significantly decrease the chance of assumptions, judgemental behaviors, and misconception due to personal filters. Here are a few examples of providing feedback and giving the speaker a chance to expound as well as showing them that you are in fact hearing them and comprehending what they are saying.
- Reflect on what has been said by paraphrasing. “What I’m hearing is …”, “It sounds like what you are saying is …”
- Ask questions to better understand points that may not have relayed quite as clearly as the speaker may have intended. “What do you mean when you say…”
- Summarize the speakers comments periodically.
This can mean a lot of things. Sometimes we can take offense at what is being said to us. Make sure you understand what is being said to you before you make assumptions as to the intent of the person speaking to you. Vocalize how you’re feeling BEFORE responding emotionally, and give the speaker a chance to expound or perhaps even digress. YOU are responsible for your emotions and your actions. Simple statements such as ” I may not be fully understanding what you’ve just said, however I am taking that statement a bit personally, what I thought you just said was … Is that what you meant?” Here are a few ways to mitigate emotional responses prematurely.
- Don’t interrupt with counter arguments before the speaker has had a chance to fully explain the thought they are trying to relay. You know what they say about assumptions.
- At the appropriate time, explain how the speakers statement made you feel and give them a chance to further explain if at all possible. There is always a chance that what you have perceived was not at all the speakers intent. Allowing them the chance to better explain or even to recant is much better than assuming intent and will cause far less trouble for both parties.
Listening is a great way to encourage respect and understanding as well as gaining information and perspective. Here are a few ways to show the person speaking to you that you have in fact heard them and have your own thoughts on the matter whether you agree with their views or not.
- Be honest in your response.
- Speak your opinions respectfully
- Don’t talk in a way that you wouldn’t want to be talked to
I know some of these things seem simple in theory, but I’m hoping we can all take away something from this article. I chose to write it because it is an area that I personally need to work on and thought maybe others will find this information useful as well. I’d like to hear some of your ideas for future articles or even your comments or opinions on existing articles. Feel free to message me directly on Discord (KSI WHISKEY 7#0642) or to leave a suggestion in our article suggestion box. (Link below)
Article by KSI DREW 7