The majority of your day is probably spent listening and communicating with others.
Whether it's your children, partner, co-workers, friends, etc., you have an ear open to what is being said.
The question is, "Are you really hearing them?"
I'm not talking about conversations pertaining to the weather or general chatting, I'm referring to the heart to heart discussions or matters of importance.
Most of us haven't learned effective ways of listening and connecting with someone.
Since much of your day is probably spent on autopilot, you may be listening but generally, only partially. More times than not, you may not even be aware this is what you are doing.
You may be thinking about what you have to do next, or you are pre-occupied with what you are doing in that moment and you haven't truly heard the person, even though you think you have.
Are you tuned into what another person is saying, or tuned out? Check it out next time you "think" you are listening. Are you?
Since most days are busy, you have to become a great multi-tasker. In fact, you probably can juggle your day almost as well as a professional juggler can.
What you might not realize is that you may not be listening and communicating as well as you think you are.
The best way to know if you are really listening to what a person has to say is by stopping what you are doing for a minute and really focusing on what he/she is talking about.
You probably have a great story and/or advice for the person; the problem is you may be offering it too soon. When you do this, you may miss how the person is feeling or the opportunity for him/her to find a solution or a lesson to learn about what is transpiring. In a way, you may be stunting his/her growth.
You mean well, and your heart and intentions are probably in the right place, just not necessarily at the right time.
When someone is talking, it's important you don't add your two cents, so to speak, too soon, even if your two cents is very valuable.
What you have to say may be very important and very helpful to the person, but you have to know when the time is right to say what you have to say, or when to share an experience you've had that you have learned from.
So how do you know how and when to listen, or when to offer your story or advice?
The question to ask yourself after conversations is, "Did I listen and communicate effectively with this person?"
Asking yourself this question allows you to be aware of whether you were really listening.
Stop. The best way to really hear what someone is saying is to stop what you are doing.
Look. It's easier to focus on what someone is saying if you are looking at him/her as opposed to looking at what you are doing, unless you cooking or driving, of course. Then you might want to chat with them later so you can pay attention to what you are doing.
Listen. You think listening would be easy to do because you do it all the time. When someone is talking, you need to check in with yourself about whether you are hearing him/her, or you are paying more attention to your thoughts or jumping in with what you feel he/she "should" do or, with your own story.
Repeat. One of the best ways to know if you are focused on what a person is talking about is by repeating back to him/her what has been said. No, not word for word, but paraphrasing what has been said. If you didn't hear correctly he/she will probably let you know by reinterating what was said.
Validate. When you acknowledge how a person feels you are saying, "I hear you."
Support. Ask if there is anything you can do to assist. Remember, not everyone is good at knowing what is needed or for asking for help. Think of what you could do that might help. A cup of tea, an ear to listen, a gift certificate, flowers, a card, checking in, etc.
Allow. Let the person who is talking have a chance to come up with some of his/her own possibilities or a chance to just be with how he/she is feeling. You can ask if he/she has thought about the next step, or plans.
Two Cents. Your insights are brilliant and it's wonderful to share them, but wait before you jump in. People are more receptive to what you have to say once they have felt their feeling and are being heard first. If you aren't sure you can always ask if the person would like some input.
Remember, you too may have something to learn by what another person is saying, but you have to stop long enough to hear it.
"The person who talks a lot or talks over people misses out because they weren't listening." Jackie Joyner-Kersee
Kimberley Cohen is the Founder, Facilitator and Personal Insight Coach of The Insight Technique?. She is certified in Body Mind Counseling, Process Oriented Body Work and Spiritual Psychotherapy. She founded the Insight Technique? - Your Insight to genuine Happiness, Peace and Possibilities to assist herself and others in minimizing the stress and anxiety of day to day living. To question and understand your thinking so you can transform what blocks and limits you from maximizing your overall happiness and potential in your life. For more, visit: TheInsightTechnique.com.© 2014 Kimberley Cohen
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