Have you ever taken the time to observe people engaged in “conversation?” More often than not, the person speaking is interrupted several times. They often never have the opportunity to share what they wanted to express fully or completely.
I witness this all the time. Unfortunately, the person interrupting believes they are engaging in the conversation. However, something else is actually happening. They are sending the message that what they think, feel, and want to share is much more important than the person speaking.
If this has ever happened to you, you know how annoying and frustrating it can be. More often than not, after too many interruptions, you likely just stop talking. I mean really, who wants to constantly go up against someone who does not appear to be interested in what you are saying anyway?
If you are the one interrupting, I can assure you it is having a negative impact on your personal and professional relationships.
- You cannot know what is on the heart of your loved ones if you are not listening to them.
- You cannot effectively lead your subordinates if you do not listen to them.
Listening is one way every human being on earth can dignify others. There are no limitations on who can be a good listener. Listening does not depend on status, education or talent. However, before you begin to listen, you must do this first.
You actually cannot listen and talk at the same time. You can only do one or the other.
Did you know the words listen and silent have the same letters? It is a simple, fun fact I use to drive home the importance of listening. You may want to reflect on the following when you contemplate improving your listening skills:
To listen . . .
L – Learn. Is an opportunity to learn something new.
I – Interest. Allows you to show genuine interest in others.
S – Suspend Judgment. Requires you to suspend judgment and be open.
T – Time. Gifts others your precious time.
E – Empathy. Will expand your level of empathy for others.
N – Necessary. Is necessary for your own personal and professional growth.
To be silent . . .
You must stop talking.
No one is a perfect listener, especially talkers. However, you can learn to how to become a better listener.
- Take the time to observe conversations around you in silence. Notice how often people are interrupted. It is an eye-opening exercise and when you witness it, you will see how unappealing, unkind and unloving it is to interrupt others.
- Start listening without interrupting today. Challenge yourself to wait until the person you are conversing with has completely finished speaking. Create space at the end of what they say to give you time to process their thoughts fully before formulating yours.
Learning how to truly listen will positively change your life in a number of ways. I look forward to learning how these suggestions help you become a better listener.