In a world of extroverts, it is all about speaking. And in the world of the internet, it is mainly about reading and writing. So we might ask ourselves: where are those who listen? Many of us seek fulfilling relationships based on trust. Hence it might be worthwhile to engage with this interpersonal habit more consciously.
One of the reasons we do not care about listening anymore might be that we have invented recording. If I miss it, I can get it later!
Listening is still unrefined and untested at school. Just think about how many hours you spent learning to write, read, speak – and how many to listen? Moreover, in a digitally connected world where everything is competing for our attention, attentive listening has genuinely become an enormous challenge. We have become far better at cutting out noise instead of listening to somebody. A place where you can experience this in all respects is when you are on a train during the rush hour. People desperately use any tools trying to cut themselves out from what others produce freely and loudly.
However, it is mainly by listening that we build a relationship and trust. By listening, we gain a more in-depth knowledge of matters or a better understanding of people. When we listen attentively to others, we let them know that we care for them, and thus we build trust, the foundation of a healthy relationship.
It takes a great effort to be a good listener – but why?
I believe that attentive listening is not just a technique or skill. Real listening is about being present in the here and now and being mindful. This kind of attention is far more demanding than listening halfway and thinking about what I want to say next. It is about showing genuine interest in another person. It is the way compassion and connection can emerge.
Whenever I work with clients, the desire for more appreciation is an issue. However, this is one of the things that cannot be provided via an App! It is more like a gift; it is something I give to someone personally. One of the sincerest forms of respect is listening carefully to what another has to say. One of the most important things we can give each other is our attention. It is by credible communication that the mind and the hearts of others can be captured.
How can I develop the quality of my listening?
First of all, changing the current behaviour is about raising your awareness. A simple yet effective way to become more aware of your listening habits might be by asking yourself after a conversation:
- During this conversation, what was my share of talking?
- During this conversation, what was my share of listening?
After a day at work or a day with your family, the relevant question you ask yourself might be:
- How many ‘listens’ did I have? And how many ‘talks’?
Conscious listening is at the heart of respect
Active listening is not only an essential requirement for effective communication. Instead, it is the most basic and powerful way to connect with another person. Based on my personal experience and those with clients, I am positive that listening to somebody evokes understanding and a connection that has an enriching effect on the relationship.
If you are interested in reflecting on your listening behaviour, coaching could be a valuable approach.