Thursday, May 27, 2021

Are you listening? Are you really listening?

The question above is real. And I would like each one of us reading this, answer the question truthfully. Think about it. Then, say Yes! or No! Say it to yourself. There is no one judging you here. Now read on.

Now think of the last few conversations you had. It could be with your Boss, your customer, your spouse, your colleague, your child, or just anyone. It could have been face to face or on the phone or over a video call or chat. Now answer this – what exactly did the other person say? How was the other person feeling? What did they mean? What did you understand? Are you sure you understood what they said or meant to say correctly? Are you sure?

If your answer to the first question is Yes and you can also answer the other questions above without a doubt – then you know what I am going to talk about now. If your answer is anything else then you want to know why I asked these questions. So here goes.

The one thing that can help us in our professional and personal lives, forever, and also help us be better human beings is listening. Listening to understand – “Active Listening”. You would have read about it in books on communication skills, books on how to deal with people better, and in quotes from successful people. This is something we all actually know, however seem to forget. And rarely follow. 


Tell me how frustrated do you feel, when you are trying to convey something important (from your perspective) to your Boss and s/he says something like “Hmm” or “ok” or just nods while s/he is busy working on the laptop or mobile or something? How frustrated do you feel when you are trying to convey something to your husband or wife or son or daughter and you can see they are not listening? Very. Right?

Well, it is equally frustrating to someone else when they are trying to tell you something and you are busy doing something else, or thinking something else. And by not listening we are not only not showing our disrespect to the other person but we are also losing out ourselves.

We are losing out on information.
We are losing out on getting to know the other person better, which could then help us deal with them better.
We are losing out on an opportunity to make the other person feel important, which in turn makes them like us.
We are losing out on opportunity, which could be hidden somewhere in what the other person is saying. (A good sales person, boss, mentor, will totally get what I am saying here).
We are losing out on…….

When you listen actively - you get to really know a person and understand what they mean and where they come from. That by itself can help you relate to them and hence deal with them better. And that is the first step to success. Because it is all about people. And Active Listening helps you get - really get people. In the 50+ years of my life that is one of things that has really helped me on numerous occasions. And that made me even put out a course to help people re-learn the art of active listening. If you are interested you can access it here. 

In today’s multitasking hyperactive life, we tend to be easily distracted all the time or just too caught up in whatever we are doing. During conversations, more often than not, we are so intent on talking or thinking about what to say next, that we hardly listen any more. We all want to be heard. We want to ‘win’ all discussions (and actually, that is when discussions become arguments). Think about the last few conversations you have just had and chances are you would remember what you said but not much of what the other person said and meant. Been there? Well, that needs to change if you want to succeed in life.

Active Listening is a learnt skill. We can all be active listeners. We just have to make that effort. It is something that can help us in every aspect of our life. Think about the people you like the most - in your personal or professional lives - chances are they would be active listeners.

What do you think? Would love to hear your views in the comments below.

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