“This is the problem with dealing with someone who is actually a good listener. They don’t jump in on your sentences, saving you from actually finishing them, or talk over you, allowing what you do manage to get out to be lost or altered in transit. Instead, they wait, so you have to keep going.”― Sarah Dessen
We all like to think that we’re good listeners right?
That we really hear what the other person is saying?
But the truth is, most people are rubbish at listening!
People think they are listening but instead they are doing one of the following…
1. Waiting for the other person to pause or take breath so that they can jump in and say what they want to say – as Stephen Covey describes “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”
2. Stealing the conversation. These people are what I fondly refer to as conversation hogs. They jump in and ‘steal’ the conversation and make it all about them. It’s generally at this point the other person silently thinks ‘why do I bother telling them anything, they never listen‘.
3. Talking over you. These people don’t even wait for you to finish speaking, they simply start talking over you.
4. Are doing something else at the same time. Whether that’s looking at their phone, checking their emails, or emptying the dishwasher. You don’t have their full attention.
5. ‘Yes, yes yes’. As you are speaking, these people, perhaps in an attempt to demonstrate that they are listening, keep repeating the word ‘Yes’, or ‘Yep’ or something along those lines. Used too much, this attempt to indicate listening actually has the opposite effect.
6. ‘You must feel/think _______’. These people tell us what we think or feel without any attempt to step into our world, ask questions and understand what’s really going on for us.
7. They finish the sentence for you. These people butt in and finish the sentence for you and more often than not, they don’t say what you were actually going to say.
The sad truth is that people are crying out to be listened too. To be heard – really heard.
Do you know what it feels like when some really takes the time to understanding your world? What you are saying and feeling? Asks you questions to deepen their understanding of what’s going on for you?
It’s like chicken soup for the soul.
Yet it’s not very often we experience this.
Listening = Impact
Miss-understandings, relationship break ups or breakdowns, people leaving jobs, conflict in the workplace, poor relationships, feuds, lack of connection with our team member, managers, colleagues, family and friends come from not understanding and hearing what the other person is saying.
On our Management Mental Health Training Programmes we spend time teaching managers about deep listening. Many find this one of the most valuable parts of the programme.
Deep listening is a skill and like all skills, it takes practice.
I once heard Jamie Smart, Sunday Times best seller say, “If you want to improve your impact by 1000%, improve your listening by 1%”.
If you want to improve both your impact and listening skills, then it’s time to listen up! Next time you notice yourself going to jump into the conversation, or start talking over the other person or any of the other things listed above, STOP!
Be aware of what you are doing. You may even find yourself apologising to the other person that you cut them off, or talked over them and invite them to continue speaking.
The truth is deep listening doesn’t come from a place of intellect. It comes from a place of connection. And it’s only when we are listening deeply, with nothing on our mind, fully present that we really connect with the other person and hear what they are saying.Experiment with listening to other people with nothing on your mind. Let your thoughts come (and go as they will.) Notice how much more you hear, both spoken and unspoken, and how much this makes the other person feel ‘heard.’
It may feel uncomfortable to start with and that’s OK! Overtime notice the difference this makes to all your relationships – and your impact increase by 1000%!