Can You Hear Me Now?
I love to talk and have spent a great deal of time doing just that. I probably say more to my husband before he drives off to work than he says before noon! As a coach, wife, mom, friend, and speaker I certainly have ample opportunity to get my words in each day.
While sharing stories and words of wisdom is fun and relevant to people's lives, there is a powerful and impactful companion to that. It is intentional and attentive listening.
We don't just want someone to listen; we want them to HEAR us.
So often, we "hear" someone talking but do not effectively process what they are saying. According to Psychology Today, research shows that "Multitasking can lead to increased distractibility. Researchers studied people’s multitasking at home over a seven-day period and found that the more people multitasked, the more likely they were to exhibit behavioral distractibility. Current assumptions are that by responding to so many distractions, one loses the ability to distinguish between important and unimportant interruptions." Case and point: Our fast-paced culture and the busyness of life can get in the way of really listening to others.
We have opportunities each day to engage in meaningful conversations, full of as much hearing as talking. The sad part is that if we don't pay attention, we might miss the emotions associated to a child who felt bullied that day, or the friend who says everything is fine and you know it's not. We can't afford to neglect opportunities to help-just with our ears.
Listening is at the core of my profession as a life coach. Here are some impactful strategies to improve our listening skills:
1. Build in time daily for one on one listening: Making time for someone to share emotions and feelings.
2. Listen with empathy: Involves seeing situations from the speaker's point of view and possibly identifying an underlying need a person may have.
3. Ask questions: Being inquisitive places importance into your relationships and makes people feel valued.
4. Attune to feelings: Means that by listening we can alleviate potentially negative emotions that people experience.
5. Summarize: By clarifying what a person has said allows us to help and serve them in a powerful way.
Having a listening ear is crucial. Imagine how a person's life can change when someone is there, investing, just with their ears. It may make all the difference and doesn't cost a thing.