The sense of hearing, alongside the senses of sight, smell, touch and taste, it's one of the five senses of our body.
Those senses let us interact with the outside world and let the world interact with us.
In this myTake, we'll mainly talk about the sense of hearing, but the others will play a role too.
Today we talk about the art of the listening.
There's difference between hearing and listening.
Simply put, hearing is the sense that allows you to distinguish sounds and noises with your ears.
Listening is the active process of receiving and responding to verbal and non verbal messages.
I personally think that attentive listening it's one of my modest qualities, since I really like to hear other people's opinions, even if I don't agree with them and can have an hard time accepting them, but recently I got into the mindset that I can always learn something new from others. I'm not afraid to ask questions and details, in that sense I'm a literal "knowledge vampire".
But, it's not some kind of "gift": It's a skill that can be learned.
So, let's see how listening, or better yet, attentive listening can help us develop our interpersonal skills as a whole and make our life and those of the people around us better.
- Distinguish what's important and what's not
There's clearly a difference between something a friend/partner/family member is saying to you, what your boss and a colleague are telling you, or what a fellow passenger on the train is saying to make idle chat.
To distinguish what's important and what's not, you need too...
- Be aware of the situation: who, what, where, when and why
Put in one word, context.
Understanding the context is the key to start understanding the other person's motives, feelings, emotions and reactions.
There's difference between a formal context and a more informal and relaxed one.
- Focalize on the other person
Focalize all your attention on who is talking to you: what they are saying, their movements, how they are approaching you. In a word, observe them (sense of sight) and if you are in a kind of closeness and relationship that allows it, take note of how they touching you or themselves, or inanimate items.
- Look how they interact on a physical level
As said before. Look at their physical mimic.
Is the other person crossing their arms? Sign of closure and defensiveness.
Are they keeping their arms behind their back? It may be a sign of trust, since they are leaving their chest open to you, but also hiding their hands.
Focus on how they touch you - it's the punctuation and conjunctive of what they are trying to communicate to you.
- Give feedback
That's very important. Show that you are receiving and elaborating what they are communicating to you. Ask questions, repeat what they said to make sure you got it right and show them you actually listened. It's that simple, really.
This brings us to another simple, yet very important thing.
- Say their name
Our name, that we like it or not, it's the sweetest sound for our brain.
So, don't be afraid to call them by their name, or nickname if they prefer it.
It will actually foster a lot of good feedback and positive feelings in the person that's talking to you, because you are recognizing them as individuals.
- Show them that they are everything that matters to you in that moment
Just for that moment, put them on top of your world and make sure to show it. They are everything that matters and you are giving all your attention and care to them, and once they notice that, they'll love it. They will really feel like the unique, unrepeatable individuals they are.
As a basic tenet, smile, be encouraging and maintain eye contact.
- Finally, understand that you can't understand everything
We are humans, not computers. We aren't fail-proof.
There will be misunderstandings, misgivings and worries, it's just normal.
What matters is that we are willing to work on that and to remedy our mistakes, always.
Thanks for reading, and don't forget to write your opinion on this myTake!