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Are You Listening Though? 4 Intentions of Effective Communication

Have you ever been out with your friend group or work colleagues and just listened to the story time? Just who is telling the story? No matter who starts out the story, it seems that everyone has something to add that has rarely has much to do with the original speaker. Each person seems eager to tell their own story and you feel like nobody is truly listening to what others are saying. Even when people appear to be listening closely, it quickly becomes evident they're mentally rehearsing their own responses, and waiting for their chance to talk.

What about in your personal life- lets say in your one on one conversations. After a long day of work or errands, do you ever find that your own thoughts get in the way of truly listening? Are you there with your friends and family, but not? You know what I mean. Your loved one is just talk, talk, talking away, yet you may be using your phone to send just one last work text. Or the ding or buzz of a social media notification took your eyes and thoughts away for just a few seconds. Now you hear the words that your loved one is saying, even though it may have that far off quality to it. You hear them, but are you listening though? You hear them, but you aren't really absorbing or processing what you are hearing. So any response isn't a truly meaningful one.

But maybe it isn't a device that took your full attention away. You have a personal matter that you have been grappling with. Though you care about what your loved one is trying to share with you, the overwhelm in the space between your ears is preventing you from keeping your mind from drifting back to your own problem at the moment. The weight of your own personal concerns, casts a veil over genuine connection with them in this moment.

Effective communication is not what you say but how you listen. If you want to maintain good relationships with others, you have to develop your ability to really hear people. Afterall, people just want to be heard. If you can separate yourself from the rest of the pack by really tuning in and hearing what people are saying, the results will be game changing for you. Because call it what you want, not listening well suggests that you don’t care, that you aren’t interested in what others have to say, or that you’re self-absorbed. This is not the signal we want to be sending. To build relationships, it’s important to really listen to others. If you’re a good listener,  people will naturally gravitate toward you. Not only will your friends will confide in you, but also you’ll make new friends more easily. Whether at school or work, understanding and truly hearing people, grasping what they expect from you, and grasping what’s important to them or what pleases or displeases them, can expedite your success. 

Improving your listening abilities is akin to honing any other skill. The more you practice, the better you will become. But to get there, you will need to embrace empathy and demonstrate a readiness to comprehend another person's emotions and perspective. Being receptive and judgment-free makes good listening more attainable.

The Trap of Pseudo Listening

Ever tried to have a conversation with someone and you notice that their eyes their keep wandering to their phone or computer? Followed by the, "Wows," "Okay," "Mmhms," or my personal favorite, "That's crazy?" If you aren't able to relate to this, then you may be the person whose eyes are wandering and returning half-hearted verbals. This is half-listening or psuedolistening. Now this is not a finger wagging indictment by the way. We’ve all been guilty of pseudo listening, or half listening. With so many distractions in our environment, it’s easy to fall into pseudo listening. The first step in combating this common habit is to understand the distinction between real listening and pseudo listening. Listening is more than just being quiet while the other person is talking or even maintainin eye contact. Real listening requires you listen with intention.

To listen with intention, one must...

Listen to understand what the other person is saying, without imposing your own judgments.

Listen to enjoy your interaction and appreciate that the person is sharing a part of themselves with you.

Listen to learn more about the other person, including the person’s thoughts, feelings, and opinions.

Listen to help, which involves paying particular attention to ways in which you can assist the person or provide support.

Having a desire to understand prompts attentiveness. Anticipating enjoyment aids in active engagement and focus. The prospect of acquiring new knowledge sparks mental stimulation. Furthermore, a genuine desire to assist others fosters a caring and empathic exchange. If you can apply these four intentions (to understand, to enjoy, to learn, and to help) when listening to others, you will find that you have more successful interactions whether it is in your personal or professional life.

Have you found that you have already been using any of these 4 distinct intentions of active listening? Can you identify ways to hone in this skill even further? Please feel free to share in the comments below. Effective communication isn't just about articulating words; it hinges on how attentively we listen. The ability to genuinely hear people is paramount for nurturing relationships. After all, the cornerstone of connection lies in the simple act of being heard. By distinguishing yourself through attentive listening, you can fortify and revitalize your relationships. And please remember, as you begin this journey, do not worry about getting it perfect; just get it going. Until next time. Happy reading.

"What you think is the point is not the point at all but only the beginning of the sharpness." ~Flann O'Brien


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