Talking, talking, talking – but no one is listening!
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Everywhere I go, I see people are talking, talking, talking – but no one is listening!
No, we are not all mad, it just seems we have forgotten the art of being able to listen actively and attentively. Who knows you might even learn something!
The greatest communication skill you can possess, the one that will make you more popular than anything else, is being a good listener. I am often challenged that surely it is the great story teller who is the communicator, but I am able to confidently share with you that whilst story telling is an art in itself, being an attentive listener is so rare that people will gravitate to you.
Does this mean you have to be bored off your brain, whilst someone rambles on about something you are not interested in? No! It does however mean that if you choose to stay in a conversation with a customer, a friend, a family member or someone you just met, then the minimum courtesy you should extend is that you listen to what they have to say. You will get your turn to speak too, but if you are so busy working out what you want to say next, then you stopped listening to what the other person was trying to tell you.
If you find someone outrageously boring, then it is better to excuse yourself and move away than remain in the space but obviously not listening.
I know its not easy, I also struggle with it daily, but I am trying every day to improve because I have experienced the difference it makes when I listen actively, I live in the moment, I miss nothing. People actually have the most extraordinary lives, makes mine seem downright mundane! The things I hear about! I have a totally different perspective on many subjects and people since I began to listen. People will tell you the most surprising things, even folk who do not know you! Really! It is rarely boring.
Sometimes I leave a conversation so happy that I am me, living my life (not theirs) and appreciating what I have so much. Other times, I marvel at the amazing things someone else has done and give myself a wake up prod that my own progress is slipping! Sometimes I am humbled by the beauty that shines from another soul. Then there are the occasions when I marvel that someone has actually survived as long as they have with their brain on another planet
I will share a story, as I so often like to do.
I was at a dinner last year and seated with a Government Minister. There was that brief moment when I thought ‘What shall I talk to him about?’ Then I remembered, listen instead! So, I asked him questions, and actively listened. I learnt a lot not just about the portfolio, and the politics, but about the man. At the end of the evening, he thanked me for being such a great dinner conversationalist, and mentioned that often he was seated next to people who were boring. Actually, I had said little, he had done most of the talking. He didn’t notice because much of what he talked about was not what he usually talked about in these events. He had relaxed. The relationship has grown, and he has since invited me to very interesting events that I am privileged to attend, I received a personal Christmas greeting from him and his family, and he has sought my counsel on a couple of industry policies. All possible because I listened actively one evening.
Listening actively is all about being in the moment. Acknowledging what the other person is saying, validating you understand their point, empathizing with their situation and demonstrating that you care enough to actually listen.
Next time you are at a restaurant, look at the other tables, you will see everywhere people talking and their companions obviously not listening attentively! Dare to be different as one by one we make the world a better place where people can communicate their differences without violence, or angst.
Be the very best you can be – Celebrate this precious gift of life – Amaze yourself.
Posted on 9 February 2015 by Terrie Anderson
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