Much like everything in life we develop a routine. When we develop that routine we become less a part of our daily actions. We become more autonomous and start to just run through the motions of the program or routine we have developed. This holds especially true when we have conversations with others. Instead of listening we merely wait our turn to speak. We already go through the routine of formulating a rebuttal, and miss half of what the other person is saying. We tend to do this on a daily basis.
Why is this bad? Well for starters it is very rude and inconsiderate to the party speaking. The other reason being is we are just running through the motions. What makes us truly alive is our ability to become conscious and aware in the now. One of the ways we can become conscious of the now is by actively listening.
Don’t just look like you are listening, actually listen. Make eye contact and genuinely listen to what the person is saying. Make note of their body language and voice inflection. Your aware of them speaking, but are they aware?
The moment someone speaks we start to impose our thoughts, ideas and emotions upon what they are saying. The moment someone speaks don’t think just listen to what they say and what their ideas are. Set your mental baggage aside.
Let your guard down
If someone is speaking to us and we find what they say to be particularly offensive we raise our defenses. We instantly develop mental barriers and start “tuning” the speaker out. To truly listen we must be open and not instantly engage into a combative thought process.
Put yourself in their position
It’s not enough to simply let your guard down. When listening one needs to actively put themselves in the speaker’s position. How do they feel about what they are saying. Are they happy sad, or angry? While they speak imagine yourself feeling the same way.
The most important key to active listening is to be quiet. After all how can you listen if you keep talking over them?
When we actively listen, we also improve our position to give genuine helpful feedback. Once we can relate, and understand the speaker’s situation we can summarize what we heard. We also gain the ability to Interpret what they said as well as offer insightful questions.
When we become more present and aware in our conversations our relationships with others will also improve. We remember that talking isn’t just waiting for our turn to speak. It is an Active listening process in which we become more aware of ourselves and our surroundings.