Please Listen, Don\'t Just Hear Me!
Did you know that there is quite a difference between listening and hearing? Hearing is receiving sounds and communication. We hear all the time, but are not always aware of everything we hear ...
Did you know that there is quite a difference between listening and hearing?
Hearing is receiving sounds and communication. We hear all the time, but are not always aware of everything we hear because we are not listening. To listen means to hear and pay attention to what you are hearing. If you hear a birdsong when you are out, and then you listen to it focusing on that one sound, it becomes clearer and more distinct, than many of the other sounds that are there.
In relating with other people listening is a skill that needs to be learned. It is not merely hearing them give an account, or relay some information. Listening means to pay thoughtful attention to what a person is saying with the mind intent on understanding the message to be delivered. The art of listening also involves watching the personís body language, maintaining eye contact, asking for clarification when needed and also listening for the unspoken message. If you truly listen, you are able to make a connection with someone without necessarily speaking yourself.
The skill of listening is frequently overlooked, or given a low priority in our communication today. Yet everybody enjoys talking with a good listener!
A major factor to a person having poor listening skills is that they are too self focused. People fail to listen carefully because they are too concerned trying to be interesting themselves, rather than be interested in the person they are talking to. They falsely believe that to be liked and accepted they must demonstrate their intelligence and knowledge with their words or comments. They may cover up their own nervousness and insecurity by constantly talking to fill the air. Talking makes them feel good, and they donít consider the other person, rather just take advantage of having an audience
Many times people believe if someone is telling them about a challenge that they are having, that it is a cue to jump in and start solving the problem. However, most people wish only to have a sounding board and just to have you listen. To take over disempowers the other person.
Here are some good ways to develop listening skills:
Be interested in the person you are talking to. Listen with the intention of learning about them. If a person senses you are really interested in getting to know them, they will begin to feel warmly towards you and talk more openly. This is a good way of building rapport, and also winning them over to your side.
Develop an attitude of curiosity towards people. Ask them questions about what they think, feel and enjoy. Find out how they see the world, what opinions they may have, their aspirations, and their experiences.
Develop your observation skills to notice things about the other person. What brings a smile to their face? What small things are important to them? When you notice even small things, it makes the other person feel special and important.
The benefits of having good listening skills are far reaching. You build rapport quicker with others and you can act and speak from an informed position. You gain a greater understanding of others and are able relate at a deeper level. People respond to your interest and become interested in you. It increases your popularity and others are open to cooperate and help you out when you are in need. Most importantly is how you can make a positive difference for someone, just by listening to them.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Barbara White of Beyond Better Development has over twenty years experience in leadership. Beyond Better Development works with organizations and individuals who want to develop their interpersonal skills towards their potential, and stay on the cutting edge.