Knowing how to listen is an art that few have mastered. Let's see what it is and how we can improve it.
Last update: January 13, 2022
Knowing how to listen is essential for effective communication. However, few people really know how to listen. We tend not to pay attention, even if we hide it, and this causes various conflicts that influence the relationship with others.
We are not aware of the importance of knowing how to listen and how useful it would be to enhance this ability. However, our need to be heard prevails and we become selfish without noticing it.
"Talking is a necessity, listening is an art."
Listen and feel
Listening and feeling are two different attitudes. After a whole day, you hear a lot of things, but you don't listen to much.
When we hear, we don't pay much attention, we simply pick up the succession of sounds produced around us.
When we listen, our attention is directed towards a specific sound or message, that is, there is an intention, which is why we activate all the senses. Like this, people who know how to listen to others accompany them on their journey through life.
Remember when there was a teacher in the class and you didn't care what he said? You didn't listen to it, you just heard his voice.
The ear canal received the sound it made, but it did not understand it. The mind was elsewhere, ignoring what was perceived through the ears.
"Listening carefully makes it special, because hardly anyone does."
Well, this attitude in a boring lesson can be transferred into one's daily life. Sometimes it is much easier to hear than to hear, since the latter requires a willingness to pay attention and to strive to understand. It is called active listening and it is necessary and important.
Knowing how to listen
An oriental proverb says: "No one makes his clumsiness and bad manners more evident than one who begins to speak before his interlocutor has finished".
Sometimes it is difficult to listen, as one mentally elaborates what will be said when the interlocutor has finished speaking. This is done rather than trying to pay attention to what he says, which causes verbal incontinence.
Well, speaking at the same time and not listening to the reasons of others, there will be no dialogues as such, but juxtaposed monologues.
Knowing how to listen is difficult, as it requires self-control and involves attention, understanding and effort to get the message. It means turning our attention to the other, entering his area of interest and his frame of reference.
Dialogue requires a silent attitude of active listening. Writer and speaker J. Krishnamurti said: "Listening is an act of silence".
As long as we do not silence our inner dialogue and pay attention to our interlocutor, we will not learn to listen. Only an attitude of active listening makes the word we can give to our interlocutor fruitful.
It is difficult to be able to tell the other something valid if we do not open our ears to listen to him. This makes the other person feel grateful and creates an atmosphere of respect, esteem and trust.
Listening is a skill that requires openness, transparency and the desire to understand. The right balance between knowing how to listen and knowing how to speak produces dialogue.
Tips for knowing how to listen
If we want to enhance our listening skills, first of all we need to identify the aspects of active listening in which we have deficits and then work on them.
These aspects can be summarized in: attention to the interlocutor, interest transmitted, waiting before responding, the ability to give and receive feedback and empathy. Below we present some techniques that help to work each dimension.
If we do not listen to the message of the other, it will be impossible for us to listen. We try to focus on what they tell us and ignore all distracting elements (internal and external).
Likewise, we make an effort to understand the position of our interlocutor and pay attention to his body language, so we will identify the context more easily and we can understand the whole message. In the end, it is vital not to interrupt and to cultivate patience.
Knowing how to listen implies showing that we are interested in what they tell us. Otherwise, the other will perceive that he is not being cured and we will provoke a negative response from him. To denote interest, the ideal would be:
- Make brief comments and gestures of agreement that show that we are listening.
- Adopting a listening body position, which implies maintain eye contact, reduce distance, direct posture towards each other, avoid crossed arms, etc.
Postpone the judgment
When the interlocutor expresses his ideas to us, we must be able to silence our inner dialogue. To do this, you have to avoid drawing conclusions while the other person is talking.
Rather, try to erase preconceptions about the subject, don't interrupt and put emotions aside. To do this, there is nothing better than practice.
Giving and receiving feedback
This is a very important aspect for effective communication. We can ask to clarify any ideas that are not clear to us and reformulate, in our own words, the message we have captured. Thus we avoid falling into unnecessary misunderstandings.
Without empathy there is no active listening. Therefore, for effective communication to take place, we must be able to put ourselves in the other person's shoes and understand him.
In addition to that, we must pay special attention to those messages that go beyond words, such as: their feelings and emotions conveyed, as well as their body language.
We exercise the ability to know how to listen! It is a healthy, fulfilling and supportive exercise, especially in a society where there are many people who need to be heard.
Only when we are able to listen to each other do we open the door to communicate with us. Therefore, we do not underestimate the ability to listen. Have we really started doing it?