TIP #7: Slow your listening down.
The first step to wisdom is silence; the second is listening.
~ Carl Summer
All good communication begins with good listening.
The problem is that most of us don’t listen very well. For most of us, listening doesn’t come naturally. And, we don’t get training it it either. Surveys show that less than 2% of people have had formal training in listening. That means 98% of us could use some help. Wow.
Part of the problem is that we speak an average of 120 words per minute, but listen four times faster. Our minds fill the gap by thinking of other things and wandering off. In other words we fill the time not listening!
Let’s do a little self reflection. Which of the following have you ever thought about (be honest) while someone is talking to you?
• Get to the point.
• I already know what you are going to say. I’m way ahead of you.
• This is boring, I’m checking out.
• What should I have for dinner?
• How should I respond?
• How can I defend my position?
If you thought of something even close to any of the above when you should be listening, you need to make a choice to slow down and really listen to understand what is being said. Stay focused.
Try this: Slow down your listening and consciously listen more than you talk.
Here’s how you can practice:
Pick at least one conversation each day this week where you concentrate solely on listening. Be fully aware and present in the moment. Avoid distractions and listen as if what you are hearing could change your life.
Just be still and listen.
Is it easy or hard? Do you need more practice?
If you’d like to have all 52 Communication Tips, you can order the book of the entire collection. It’s a great tool for weekly staff meetings or family dinners to begin to improve your communications skills, one tip at a time.
Betty Lochner is a communication specialist, author, and professional speaker who teaches individuals and organizations how to make small changes that make huge differences in their relationships at work and home – improving morale, confidence and productivity. She is the author of Dancing with Strangers: Communication skills for transforming your life at work and at home and 52 Communication Tips. Both are also available on Amazon.com.