We are distracted, preoccupied, or forgetful 75% of the time. In terms of time, that equates to 3 out of every 4 seconds where your mind betrays you by thinking outside of the current moment. Give me your attention for the next few moments and follow me through an exercise. Think about someone in your life that you do not like or don’t find what they talk about interesting. Recall the last conversation you had with said individual. What were you thinking when you heard them speaking? Were you listening to what they were saying? Did you even care to have the conversation? What judgements were you making about the words they spoke? If we do not like someone, we remember less than 50% of what was said in the conversation. This comes from a lack of active listening. Even if we like the person or the topic, most humans can only remember about 50% of what was said. Imagine how this might affect the relationships in your life. Whether it be a personal or business, these facts will directly affect your ability to have meaningful conversations that in turn create deep relationships with others. These traits are part of being human. There is no way to avoid them. Do not worry. Another trait of being human is adaptation. Below are the three tools I use to increase the amount of time I spend in Actively Listening.
- Eye contact – When I am listening to someone speak, I do my best to keep eye contact. Wandering eyes get us in all sorts of trouble when it comes to paying attention. Even the most mundane items instantaneously become interesting! Focus on eye contact and your mind will wander less as well. On top of that, your conversation partner will notice this gesture and will feel they are being listened to.
- Lack of Judgement – Extremely difficult but worth it. Our mind creates preconceived notions about people and situations to the point that we are seeing moments of time through the lense of what our mind wants us to see. Instead, try putting those opinions and considerations down for just a moment. Listen to what is being said and then utilize the information the judgements have to provide afterwards.That way you listened and understand what was meant by the statement.
- Love and Empathy – Hearing others say, “I hate people”, hurts at a deep level for me. For someone to say they hate 7.7 billion people brings many questions to mind on how many of the 7.7 billion they have actually met. The reality is that individual hates a few people in their life and decided that everyone is the same. I personally promise that showing love and empathy towards someone will change how you listen. We are all on this rock in space together. Yes, be an individual but realize your responsibility to others as part of the human community. We have no idea what others are going through in their life. Error on the side of love and you will find yourself actively listening much more than before.
These tips help both in business and personal relationships. We all want to be listened to. That employee with a great idea wants to be heard. The spouse that is having problems at work wants to be heard. The best friend going through a rough family situation wants to be heard. The business partner that does not want to be part of the business anymore wants to be heard. All you need to do is actively listen when they are finally ready to share.
Helping Managers assist their employees in finding their why, creating a path to achieve that why, and keeping them on that path.
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