Think about it for a moment. What is going on in your head when you are having a conversation with someone? I often ask this question in workshops and get a variety of answers, most of which, are not related to listening intently to the conversation.
So what is commonly going on it our heads?
- What I’m going to cook for dinner tonight. What I have to do next. A conversation I need to have with someone else…. This is when we are not really listening at all – sometimes called spousal listening!!
- Often we relate what the other person is talking about to our own lives. Instead of focusing on the intent of their conversation we relate it to ourself and start sharing a similar experience. The experience that we relate too may only be vaguely linked to the intent of the other person. When this happens we see conversations go off on tangents, we leave thinking…. “I wonder how we ended up there, that wasn’t what I wanted to talk about”
- Another option is that we are thinking about what we are going to say next.
- Sometimes we problem solve instead of listening. We provide our opinion about the topic and suggest solutions.
We know that listening is made up of words, tone and body language which combined give us a more complete understanding of the intent of the person communicating with us.
Learning to really listen is not easy, we have to silence the voice in our own head and really focus on the person talking. It’s amazing how much we can learn about someone in a short time if we really listen. Their language can provide learning style, values, beliefs and attitudes. Visually we can hear and see their passion and motivations.
Listening is an essential skills for facilitators and coaches – our intent is assisting a group or individual reach their own outcome.
Next time you have a conversation with someone I challenge you to really listen – listen like you have never listened before and see what you can learn.
As Steven Covey told us “Seek to understand before being understood” – good listening skills are one of the keys.