You have two ears and one mouth so you can listen twice as much as you talk!
Yep...I have used that line before! Actually...I am pretty sure that line may have been used on me too!
I am fully aware that I am one of those people that talks a lot. What can I say? I like chatting with people! However, while I still talk a lot and am probably known as chatty, I think over the last few years I have also improved in my listening skills.
I will admit, I was probably a very average listener for a long time. Sometimes I would zone out in my own head and drift back in and have missed parts of the conversation! Other times I was too busy thinking about what I wanted to contribute to the conversation that I wasn't paying full attention to the others in the conversation. It sounds terrible when I say that out loud but it's the truth!
I am happy to say I am not like that very often these days at all. I am a far better listener than I used to be!
But it makes me think...if I was like that, surely other people are the same.
I know as a teacher, I talk about active listening all the time! It is a skill that needs to be taught, learned and developed. The problem with six-year-olds is that often every thought that pops into their head needs to be shared - regardless of relevance or timing!
So I am curious -
How do we become better listeners?
How do we teach our little humans to develop the skills of a great listener?
Every good conversation starts with good listening.
Paying more attention to what someone else is saying will actually help a conversation flow smoothly and be more valuable for all parties involved. Listening means taking a second to consider what the other person is saying and not just hearing their words.
If you listen carefully, people will tell you what they need.
Listen and Learn
There is so much you can learn just by listening to others. If you allow people space and time to talk, they will talk. It is interesting what you might learn. Nobody knows everything but everybody knows something. When you talk, all you are doing is repeating something that you already know. It is your own knowledge. But if you listen, you have the opportunity to learn something new.
Listening is not about you!
Listening is really an art form and requires practice and attention. Your ego is not part of developing your listening skills. While we love to talk about ourselves and share what we know, we make better connections when we learn to let our ego go and understand and develop the skill of active listening and learn that it is not always about us! (Sorry to the only children out there! Self-included!)
A reply is not always needed.
We live in a world where often people just want to help. Which in itself is definitely not a bad thing at all! But often when we listen to others we are doing it with the intent to reply and give our advice or share our own experiences. Sometimes this is good. But often we forget that sometimes people may just need someone to listen to them and understand. Often, listening is the only thing needed to help someone. Such a simple act when done effectively.
What is Listening? Here are a few tips for us all!
Listening is not just about hearing. Listening is about receiving the message that is being sent to you. Listening is about reacting to what you are hearing. It is about being affected by what you hear.
It is important to let the words you hear land before you react and respond. Let your reaction make a difference to the conversation and the other person.
Listening is about Learning. Learning is the result of listening, which in turn leads to even better listening and increased attentiveness to others.
Learning is about having empathy. The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood. The best way you can understand people is to listen to them. Listen with empathy and compassion. Listen with sensitivity and without judgement. The best thing you could possibly have when in a conversation is an open heart and a willingness to truly listen.
Learning is about being sincere. I get that there are people who talk and talk and forget to take a breath! Sometimes I am that person! But regardless, if you look closely, it is very simple to tell if people are actually actively listening to you. So my best advice and something I always try to be more conscious of these days - is to be sincere when you listen. If you ask a question, listen when you get a reply. Engage with the response. Be authentic in your reaction. It is easy to spot fake these days and it is a lot less tolerated than it ever used to be. So don't be that person. It is okay to excuse yourself from a conversation!
Listening creates connections. If you want to be the person in the room that people are drawn to, start being the person to ask questions to others about themselves and their lives. Be the person in the room that listens instead of talk. People will move toward you. We ALL love to talk about ourselves. We also ALL love to be heard. The difference is - when you start doing the very thing you are seeking, it will open up a whole new world. Listening is a magnetic force.
Until next week....have a spectacular week!
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