Mar 23, 2016

Are You Listening? 10 Ways to Communicate Better

You've seen it. Distracted eye movement, head turned to focus on something else, maybe even pauses of interrupted multi-tasking.  

You notice these distractions and you'd like to scream out,  

"HEY, are you listening to me?"

I'm sure, at some point in life, you've fallen victim to not being heard. 

It's also possible that you've been guilty of doing it yourself...NOT listening. 

It's quite common in relationships with family, friends, co-workers or even new acquaintances.  

"I thought you said to unload the dishwasher?"
    "No, I said to start the dishwasher."

"I thought we were meeting at Mary's house?"
     "No, we were meeting at Bonnie's house."

"I was supposed to pick up Johnny today?"
     "Yes, we spoke about it over lunch yesterday." 

"When did you say we had plans for Saturday?" 
     "We discussed this! Weren't you listening?"

Many of these conversations that slip through the cracks are pretty common when we're easily distracted by our daily routines. The small reminders, little tasks and dates to remember can easily fall off the noggin wagon. 

Maybe it's midlife memory syndrome (read "These Days Remembering Not To Forget Is Challenging) or simply not giving full attention to what's being said. 

We're all guilty of not listening like we should. Missing the day to day spiel is probably pretty normal. It might be boredom, not being interested or just plain not paying attention to one another. 

However, if we're not practicing the little day to day communication, it's possible you could miss the big important conversations. The ones we should really be listening and paying attention to. 

The conversations that shed light on how someone is feeling, what angers them or what is hurtful. Understanding and really listening to what makes a person tick. What are their likes, dislikes and what generates excitement. 

This Ted Talks presentation struck a chord with me and actually what inspired me to write about it and share with those of you that care to listen. 

Here are 10 ways to have a better conversation:
  1. Don't multi task. Be present.
  2. Set aside personal opinions. Enter a conversation assuming you have something to learn.
  3. Use open ended questions. Let them explain their feelings.
  4. Go with the flow. Don't let other thoughts enter your mind and distract you.
  5. Don't know. Say you don't know.
  6. Don't equate your experience with theirs. It's not about you.
  7. Try not to repeat yourself. 
  8. Don't overdo the details. 
  9. Listen. If your mouth is open you're not learning. 
  10. Be brief. Be interested in other people. Keep your mind open. 
The video explains each point with a little more detail and I encourage you to watch or bookmark it for later. 

I've found that it's good to be self aware, but not self absorbed. Building good relationships and friendships may mean turning the ear up and turning your voice down. 

We all want to be heard. 

There's always something to say, but listening is when we truly begin to grow and know. 

Balancing between talking and listening is a skill that seems to be disappearing. A small part of that is due to our world of technology. 

So, put down what you're doing, ask open ended questions and really listen to the answers. 

And, if you've already mastered how to fake listening, then don't be surprised if you miss some amazing stuff. You might find yourself not only being late to the party, but wondering where it's at. 

So are you a good listener or just good at faking it?

Indulging In the Write Stuff 


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  1. Oh number one. It's not that hard. In fact :-) I told my husband you don't even really need to listen just don't multitask. You can think about something else in your head :-)

    1. Funny Carla, how many times do we find our minds wandering off when we should be listening.

  2. This is so relevant to my life. I'm so darn distracted, and my kids are at the ages now that they're really noticing when I'm not fully listening. I've got to get more present, so they remember me as being a mom who was. Great topic. Thank you!

    1. Being "present." That's a biggie and it's so easy to get caught up in distractions. Glad you found the topic relevant. Thanks Julie!

  3. I think listening and not being distracted is even more challenging when we have our nose constantly in our phones. Great tips. Thanks

    1. Absolutely Rebecca! Nothing can replace eye to eye and face to face interaction. Thanks for sharing :)

  4. I am guilty as charged. I know I could do a better job of listening and I am suffering from a case of midlife ADD from all the distractions around me. No excuse though. Can never get too good at listening. Thanks for the reminder.

    1. Thanks Molly! Sometimes old habits are hard to change. We have to be mindful and really put in the effort. Glad you commented on this. :)

  5. I have such good intentions. But then . . Adult ADD. Ooh! Squirrel!

  6. Good advice, I think I'm a pretty good listener, but I like the part about not injecting your own experience or opinion to the other persons experience.


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