Are You Listening?

It's hard to listen when you're always talking. I know that sounds obvious, but how often do we find ourselves in conversation, and while the other person is talking, we're thinking of our own next response? I know I've done that before. A wise person once said that a person cannot learn if they are always talking. Not long ago, I met someone who wished to be mentored; however, they were so concerned about sharing their own experiences and thoughts that they never stopped talking long enough to listen and obtain the wisdom and advice they so deeply craved. Have you ever felt like even though someone said they were listening to you, that they were really only 'hearing' and not truly listening to what you were saying? That's not a person that you want to share your thoughts with, especially when that person is constantly trying to interject their own thoughts and feelings into the conversation all the time. How do we go from just hearing others' words to being a good listener?

There's two types of listening, passive and active. As we've discussed, no one enjoys speaking to a passive listener; they are there, but they're not listening to what's being said. Active listeners are engaged and interested in what is being said, as well as desiring to understand the full message from the communicator. This is the kind of listening that all of us crave and will respond positively to. To become an active listener, here's a few tips:

1. Listen more than you speak
2. Actively engage in the other person's story
3. Look at the person who is speaking
4. Ask for clarification if you don't understand something
5. Keep the focus on the other person
6. Listen beyond the other person's words...what are the implied messages, body language communication, tone of voice...etc.

Think of a couple situations in your own life where you've been a passive listener, and a few where you've been an active listener. Would it make a difference in your life to become a better listener? Let's challenge ourselves today to be actively engaging in our listening to others. It will not only benefit your understanding, but you'll also find that it builds trust in all of your relationships with others.

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