HOW TO LISTEN UP!
In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey tells of a father who came to him saying, “I can’t understand my kid. He just won’t listen to me.” Covey patiently tried to get the dad to see the inconsistency of his statement. You don’t understand people by getting them to listen to you. You understand them when you listen to them.
Is anyone listening?
It’s true that our high-tech, fast paced society today allots less time to listen to one another. Everyone is in a hurry, no one has time, but the need for communication and connection is more important than ever. Relationships at work and at home cannot thrive or survive without listening to one another. It’s imperative that we need to listen up!
Ever jump to understand a person’s disagreeing view? That’s not the first move of most people in conversation. People usually jump to judge, to argue, or to reject, to debate, but to understand? That’s in a minority of people.
But we can change that. When we listen to another person, we can refuse to be distracted by our own opinions and biases. We can accept that listening to a differing view is not going to cause the veins in our foreheads to explode. It’s only fair that If we want our point to be understood, we need to practice understanding the point of others. We need to listen up!
Listen to what people say, not to what we want to hear. Listen to their choice of words, not what we want them to say. Listen to their values, their complaints, their priorities, their outlook, and how they speak about other people, because that will reveal who that person is. So pay attention, put down any distractions, look at the person speaking, and listen up.
To avoid the impulse to finish the sentences of a person who speaks slower than we do is often a tussle. This is a test of our patience. And another impulse to avoid is planning what to say next when we should be listening. Also don’t interrupt the person talking, or take calls, or look at our phone (or TV), or wave to someone we know, or stare at the floor or out the window, all of which convey that the person talking is a bother to us, and not important.
Look at the person talking, without distraction. Practice listening with the intent to understand. This earns the respect of others.
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