Listening, or just hearing?
So Colin, what do you do?
I am The Listener
The Listener? What does that mean?
When was the last time you felt really heard?
Oh come on, we all know how to listen.
Sure, I am listening now?
Are you? Or are you just hearing me?
What do you mean?
You intuitively know when someone is not listening, you can feel it. How many times are you in a conversation with someone, and you are looking at someone or something else, be that the person walking past, your mobile, the advert on the hording, the car passing, your watch, the television? Also, what else are you hearing, the conversation next to you, the people at the bar, the strangers walking past, or listening to what is going on inside your head, I wonder if the trains are running on time yet, I really do need to get to the gym tomorrow, why didn’t she call me back, when will my Client say yes to that proposal……sorry what were you saying? You see what I mean?
Goodness, so listening is very different to hearing. So what tips would you offer for listening better?
Real listening, like much of life, is a paradox. Real listening is active, yet it looks like you are doing nothing, hearing is passive yet it looks like you are doing a lot.
So my tips are very simple, face the person you are speaking to, look them in the eye and maintain eye contact, even when they look away to think. Be fully present with them, after all if they are not the most important person for you at that moment, why are you even there? Do not interrupt, allow them to speak uninterrupted, allow there to be silence, and when you think they have finished speaking or the silence is too long, allow that silence to remain a little longer.
Wow, so will this make a difference to my relationships?
Definitely, your colleagues at work, your loved ones, and especially your children.