Listening is critical in any situation in life. Whether it is relationships, friendships, your career or personal life. You have to want to listen to actually listen. You cannot multitask, distract yourself or become inattentive when listening.
In my own life, I can say that many friendships and relationships fall apart because others do not listen. Examples from my own life from what I have experienced as negative listening is : not paying attention to the speaker. Instances where you can tell when you are not being fully listened to can be when someone calls you, but you lead the conversation. Another instance can be when you are trying to converse with someone and they are playing video games or doing something other than being engaged in the conversation. Other instances can happen where you are facing a problem or issue and you tell a person how you are feeling. They stay silent, play on their phone and do not listen to you at all or with empathy. It can feel like you are talking and listening to yourself. Sometimes relationships or friendships fall apart because a person has not yet developed skills to become a good listener. Or, they think they are a good listener already, but do not realize that they are inattentive, dismissive, and not actually listening at all.
There can be in a situations where one person reveals deep and personal information about oneself during a conversation and the other person is doing something else and not fully engaged in the conversation. This is another negative listening habit. When you come to someone with the obstacles you are facing, it can be a huge let down when you realize that they aren't fully engaged in the conversation. They lose interest in the conversation and ultimately end up losing interest in you as a friend or significant other; because if they weren’t listening in the first place, why would they have interest in you or talking to you? If they aren’t fully engaged and listening to you, why should you expect a different outcome?
While sometimes it could be very difficult to lose someone as a friend or significant other in your life ultimately because they didn’t or ever listen to you, you have to remember that not everyone who you meet knows how to listen well or is ultimately meant to always be in your life. You want people in your life who will support you, care about you and listen to you and what you have to say. You cannot have a meaningful and healthy relationship with anyone if they cannot listen to you or want to. These are questions I sometimes ask myself after my own listening journey. You have to want to listen to listen. If you work on yourself to become a better listener through experience, books, podcasts, etc. You will become a better listener, BUT you have to work for it!
So, how do you actually become a better listener?
Listening Wisdom Points are some of the best foundations into becoming a better listener and putting these wisdom points into practice. These are the listening wisdom points I have learned myself from a listening course I took with author and listening leader, Rick Bommelji.
Mindful Silence, The Golden Pause, Comprehensive Listening, Appreciative Listening, Interpersonal Listening, Intrapersonal Listening, Platinum Rule (empathy), SIER.
SIER- Sense, Interpret, Evaluate, Respond, You have to care enough about the message coming to you for it to be relevant. You have to want to listen to listen. The steps of SIER can guide you on how to sense, interpret, evaluate the message before you respond to it. This shows active listening.
Your Mindset is between skills and attitude. You can view people through 2 mindsets: as people and as objects. You view them as objects and you probably don't care much. View them intentionally as people then the care escalates significantly.
1. The need to be understood
2) The need to have your feelings validated Empathy Levels
There are many different levels of listening with empathy. The more that you listen with empathy, the more you will have meaningful conversations and can practice listening.
1) Listener IGNORES and DETRACTS from CONTENT and FEELINGS of
2) Listener responds to content yet IGNORES speaker’s FEELINGS a) Try to SIER to put language around a persons feelings
3) Listener RESPONDS to CONTENT and to SURFACE FEELINGS
4) Listener RESPONDS to CONTENT and to TRUE FEELINGS
There are some of the listening foundations to becoming a better listener. While these tips can help somewhat, they barely scratch the surface on one's listening journey. Becoming a good listener doesn't come easy and doesn't come overnight. It could take weeks, months or even years. It is critical to be patient with yourself and allow yourself to make mistakes, grow and learn the best strategies will work for you. Remember, listening pays if you make the investment!