One of the most valuable skills we can have is to listen to others. To empathize and connect with others is a skill and an art. This act of listening will help you to propel your personal and professional life. I really struggle to fully listen. Usually I am thinking about a response or something else going on. This is embarrassing to admit, but it’s the truth. Unfortunately my wife can attest that my head is somewhere else often. I have made excuses, but the fact is I need to improve in listening.
In all reality we all struggle to truly listen to each other. The more technology amps up, the harder it is to listen. This has major consequences within our families, businesses, relationships, and our spiritual lives. Listening is a skill you and I need to work on and like any new skill I want to encourage you to be patient with yourself as you give focus to listening. These 4 things will make you a better listener.
1. Practice. Like any skill you need to practice. As I started to work on my listening I became tired because now that I was focusing on listening it was requiring new effort. Active listening does require more effort and energy and that is why most never really listen. No matter how small the conversation is, practice listening fully to the person. Build that ear and brain muscle through practice.
2. Care. You need to care. This is foundational; if you don’t care you won’t listen. You need to know why it is important to listen. Whether it is caring for the person or what they are saying, you need to care. Most of the time we don’t. If we did, we would take better attention to engage in listening. Get your mind off of you and on to the person speaking. Build a foundation of listening by increasing how much you care. I have prayed that God would help me to get my eyes off myself and increase my heart for others. He will be faithful if you ask Him.
3. Present. Are you in the moment when others are talking? Don’t let your mind wander. Keep your eyes focused on the person you are talking with. Don’t think about what you are going to say in response, rather be silent in your mind. Most of the time I am thinking of what I am going to say next instead of listening to someone. If you are doing this make sure and catch yourself. It will take time to develop the new habit of full presence.
4. Wait. Allow time to pass between one person talking and your response. This time needs to happen because this is when you are going to think about your response. Sometimes it will feel like an eternity, but it really isn’t. It is the pause between notes that creates music and it is the pause between talking that reveals a meaningful conversation.
The main thing with listening to others is to remember that connection is what we are after. To truly connect with others is rare and sets you apart. You will have greater relationships and businesses if you listen, care, and empathize with others. In a world of false connectivity we are called to something greater. Start today and build that muscle. When you fail, get back up and try again. Be blessed on your journey.
What helps you to fully listen?
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