Welcome to Monday! As summer draws to a close and business picks up, it’s a great time to complete our series on listening. The final skill is Responding. If you’ve mastered the other skills in the listening process, then responding should be easier than ever. You’ll be prepared to address the speaker’s most important points with an awareness of the circumstances and context surrounding his/her words.
It’s important to understand the transition between listening and speaking, though, and be aware of the ways responding is still part of the active listening process:
• Don’t complete the speaker’s sentences. This is a presumptuous and rude way to respond. Why do we all do it at times? I think there are several reasons: Sometimes we’re pressed for time. Sometimes we haven’t really listened or evaluated what the person is saying, and we assume that we know what he/she is going to say. Sometimes it’s a person who always says the same thing, and it’s painful. Sometimes he/she is speaking so slow that it’s driving us crazy! Do any of these sound familiar? Perhaps we should look at it from the other person’s viewpoint: Why would he/she say the same thing over and over? Why does he/she talk slow or keep starting over when we interrupt? Maybe we’ll discover that it’s less painful when we become better listeners.
• Address the speaker’s points. It makes it easier for the speaker to transition into a listener when he/she knows exactly which part of the message you’re addressing. Examples include, “When you said… my first thought was…” or “If I can go back and ask you about something you said. You said…”
Something to Think About:
While each stage seems like a lengthy process, it all happens in a very short amount of time and should feel natural during a conversation. All you’re doing by practicing these tips is making yourself more conscious of the way you communicate and the bad habits you should avoid in the listening process.
Listening is the most important part of communication, because if you fail to understand the message being expressed to you, you also will fail in providing a substantial and meaningful response. This is the root cause of many arguments, misunderstandings and complications, whether at home or at work. Being able to take control of the listening process will turn you into a better communicator overall.
This week, be aware of your conversations at home and in the workplace. Apply all of the skills that we have discussed this month, and watch what happens in all of your relationships.
Words of Wisdom:
“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” – Stephen R. Covey
“This is the problem with dealing with someone who is actually a good listener. They don’t jump in on your sentences, saving you from actually finishing them, or talk over you, allowing what you do manage to get out to be lost or altered in transit. Instead, they wait, so you have to keep going.” – Sarah Dessen
“The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t being said. The art of reading between the lines is a lifelong quest of the wise.” – Shannon L. Alder
“We have two ears and one mouth, so we should listen more than we say.” – Zeno of Citium
“It takes a great man to be a good listener.” – Calvin Coolidge
“Defensiveness is usually someone silently screaming that they need you to value and respect them in disguise. When you look for deeper meanings behind someone’s pain you can then begin to heal not only yourself, but others.” – Shannon L. Alder