It’s amazing to think that we are barely aware of what happens in our minds when we are listening yet it is an ability we rely on daily. Over the past few years I have observed that we are rapidly losing our ability to listen. Our dependence on indirect communication – through technology, and the damages of multi-tasking has slowly weakened our willingness to give full attention to the person in front of us. We have drastically reduced emotions in our communication and compassion for another human being has been replaced by the click of a “Like-Button”. I see families sitting together starring at the pixels on their high tech devices not seeing each other anymore. At work colleagues ask each other out for lunch by sending emails or sms while being in the same room. So what should have been communicated as a giant picture full of colors, shapes, textures and lines is turned into a black and white stick figures.
Entrepreneurs and leaders who listen well are far more likely to pick up on where potential opportunities, challenges, the problems and maybe even the solutions may lie. As a trainer and coach, listening alone is one of the most powerful skills I have developed to help my clients overcome their challenges; to find new ways of dealing with the problem, to also see where they have gone wrong and how they can get back on track. So then why is it that we don’t listen more?
MULTI-TASKING MULTIPLIES DAMAGE
You may believe you can simple multi-task but more and more studies are showing that we actually can’t and shouldn’t because when we do, we’re more likely to make the situation worse. Multi-tasking several ideas at the same time in essence muddies the clarity of the information and also the intention. Regular multi-taskers are shown to be more likely to take information at face value – not checking for authenticity and accuracy, which often leads to mistakes. From a communication and listening standpoint, think of how insincere, disinterested and fake a person is when they are checking their emails while you communicate your heart to them.
PASSIVE HEARING, ACTIVE LISTENING
Hearing in itself implies being passive because you’re effortlessly picking it up.
Listening is when you actively identify the sounds to make sense of it. Repeating in your own words what people say is a good way to clarify information and show you are actively participating.
As you are listening, your mind is engaged in taking in not only the words but consciously paying attention to the tonality, volume, tempo, etc. It’s not only auditory, but the visually as well – The physiology, the gestures, the expressions and even micro-expressions. All the information gets taken in the mind to determine a more ‘complete’ image; what you think it means and it you believe it implies.
TAKING BACK CONTROL
Decision-making requires information. If you want to make a more educated and well-informed decision, listening will allow you to become more aware and spot the clues. It also gives you control over what questions to ask next’ and also what questions may not have been asked yet. You get to design how the next move is planned, what else is needed and what will happen next.
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