When was the last time you were part of “conversation”, where you did not have a chance to speak? These types of “conversations” that are replaced by personal broadcasting. I had this experience last week with one of my colleagues on the phone. Despite that we were several in the conversation, he took the lead and would not allow anyone else to share their points. There were no pauses to be able to interrupt and none of us wanted to be rude just by cutting his speech. What was the outcome? The rest of the team was tired of his personal broadcasting, at some point majority of us “disconnected” and due to the lack of time we closed the call. Do you face this type of communication?
When was the last time you converted to “personal broadcaster”?
Don’t you think that we are losing our listening?
According to the latest researches we spend roughly 60 percent of our communication time listening, but we’re not very good at it. We retain just 25 percent of what we hear. Julian Treasure, writer and speaker, defines listening as making meaning from sound. It’s a mental process, and it’s a process of extraction. And in majority of cases we extract what we want or what we need from the entire conversation.
As Julio Treasure explains, there are a lot of reasons that we loose our listening. First of all, we invented ways of recording – first writing, then audio recording and now video recording as well. Careful listening has simply disappeared. Secondly, the world is now so noisy, it’s just hard to listen, it’s tiring to listen.
Our media have to scream at us with these kinds of headlines in order to get our attention. And that means it’s harder for us to pay attention to the quiet, the subtle, the understated.
The art of conversation is being replaced – dangerously, by personal broadcasting.
And then there is a whole range of filters, such as culture, values, beliefs, attitude, expectations, intentions. These filters take us from all sound down to what we pay attention to. Most of us are entirely unconscious of these filters. But they actually create our reality in a way, because they tell us what we’re paying attention to right now.
Where is our attention? Do we actively listening or waiting for the pause to share our own experience? Or maybe we start listening and in a moment we “disconnect”? Of course when we do not care about the subject or the person, our attention disappears. But can we say that we are “entirely present” in conversations with people that we care about?
Listening is our access to understanding. Conscious listening always creates understanding.
How can we improve our conscious listening?
I think we all know how to improve our communication and listening skills, don’t we? I would like to share with you some tools that work for me (since I am conscious that sometimes I tend to convert into “personal broadcaster”):
Give the speaker your undivided attention, and acknowledge the message. Recognize that non-verbal communication also “speaks” loudly.
Look at the speaker directly
Put aside distracting thoughts
Don’t mentally prepare a rebuttal! (are you listening or having your own internal speech?)
Avoid being distracted by environmental factors. For example, side conversations.
Show that you’re listening.
Use eye contact, body language and gestures to convey your attention.
Listen without interrupting.
For me this one is the most important.
Interrupting is a waste of time. It frustrates the speaker and limits full understanding of the message.
Allow the speaker to finish each point before asking questions.
Don’t interrupt with counter arguments.
Our personal filters, assumptions, judgments, and beliefs can distort what we hear. As a listener, our role is to understand what is being said.
In today’s high-tech, high-speed, high-stress world, communication is more important then ever, yet we seem to devote less and less time to really listening to one another. Genuine listening has become a rare gift—the gift of time. It helps build relationships, solve problems, ensure understanding, resolve conflicts, and improve accuracy. At work, effective listening means fewer errors and less wasted time. At home, it helps develop resourceful, self-reliant kids who can solve their own problems. Listening builds friendships and careers.
Are you aware of your own style of communication? Are you a good listener?
Do you have any other techniques of effective listening that works out for you?