Listening actively can open new horizons in the relationship, DS ©
Two days ago, I was discussing my thesis and at a point I speak about Listening actively. One asked what active listening means – thought that I should write a small paragraph clarifying. I laughed and said: “in fact, I have a whole article that I could attach!”.
My heart is to re-publish this article. Listening is so important. We fail to practice it with our own close people as there are much to trigger us but still, it is a great tool to improve relationships.
(The photo attached is taken in central Turkey, Cappadocia and that opening reminds me the shape of an EAR! a good listening ear!)
So, here it goes….
It is written:
“My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…”
The first amazing and most profitable tool is LISTENING. There are two types of listening: Passive and Active.
- Passive Listening is: “When interacting, people often are not listening attentively. They may be distracted, thinking about other things, or thinking about what they are going to say next (the latter case is particularly true in conflict situations or disagreements)”
- Active Listening is: “A communication technique that requires the listener to understand, interpret, and evaluate what s/he hears. The ability to listen actively can improve personal relationships through reducing conflicts, strengthening cooperation, and fostering understanding. Active listening is a structured way of listening and responding to others, focusing attention on the speaker. Suspending one’s own frame of reference, suspending judgment and avoiding other internal mental activities are important to fully attend to the speaker.”
(Ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Active_listening, accessed 11th February 2011)
It is not about just hearing what somebody says but truly listening. Our body declines with interest towards the other person when we truly listen. Our eyes make a kind, soft, empathetic continuous contact with the eyes of our talker. When we listen, we do not interrupt the talker. When we listen we do not jump to conclusions. We do not judge. We do not advice. We accept the other person as s/he is and listen what they just say. When we listen, we make an effort to understand and not to be understood. To UNDERSTAND means to try to walk in their shoes and acknowledge that fact that this is not possible so do not cross the line and think that you KNOW what they go through.
We do not assume that we know what the other person will say or think. We will never walk in the shoes of somebody else, not matter how long or how well we think we know that person. We cannot know not only what they are going to say but how they are going to say. The context of what is said is not only what it is said – the words. It is A part of the communication and in fact the smallest one (7%). The next part is the way we choose to say something, the tone of the voice or otherwise how we say what we say (38%). The last but not least – in fact the most important part – is how our body language connects to what we just said. That’s why the face to face is the best way of communication, as all three parts are present. When we talk e.g. on the phone, we lose 55% – the body language.
The attitude of “I know what you think, I know what you are going to say” destroys relationships to the point of no return sometimes (speaking from experience!). This kind of attitude reflects lack of respect towards the other person. It is an arrogant attitude. It is self centred attitude. That’s why – in time – people withdraw and prefer to find someone else to speak to. It is difficult to open our heart and thoughts to someone who when you start talking, immediately comes to a result in his/her mind and prepare the answer, without at least let you finish what you have to say. That’s how strong misunderstandings occur and that’s how two people remember in different ways the same conversation! What someone says to you and what you hear can be amazingly different!
It is hard to explain again and again to a person not to interrupt you or not to answer before finishing and to respond “I know what you are going to say”. Eventually one packs and goes… (To add also that it is very rude to interrupt someone and turn the discussion to your own opinions, thoughts and stories. It is absolutely self-centred behaviour!)
It is hard when we talk to somebody and see his/her eyes going “blank”. They look at you but they do not see you. Do you understand what I mean? It is like they are there but not present, like his/her mind chases other thoughts; as s/he is sleeping with open eyes!
The most important and vital element of active listening is your honest interest to understand the other person, to understand what speaks about and what really means. It is not about you to be understood. The moment for you to be understood is when you say your own story!
When we are honestly interested to listen, we focus on the other person. We do not dwell in our thoughts. We do not get absorbed from what happens around in the environment. We do not interrupt to get a call – especially when the discussion is vital and very important and not just about the weather. When we are sincerely interest of what the other person speaks about, what feels and thinks, what is his/her perception, we will ask further questions to help the discussion, the so-called “open questions” that open the field to further exploration and development. We will node or say a “hum” to reassure the other person that we do listen. We will ask clarifications in anything not clear to us than just give an advice, an opinion or a judgement. Even when we judge inside us, trust me, it does reflect on our face. The other person will sense it.
When we genuinely listen, we allow moments of silence. In this way the other person can reflect on one’s own thoughts and we have the opportunity to mirror on what we just heard. We do not need to talk all times and cover all gaps! We do not need to finish the sentence of the other person when we notice that s/he stops and thinks about something. Everybody is capable to finish his/her own sentences! They just need a moment…
Some space and some time can take the conversation long way.
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