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I remind myself every morning: Nothing I say this day will teach me anything. So if I’m going to learn, I must do it by listening. Larry King
We can only talk if someone else is willing to listen. We can only listen if someone else is willing to talk. How can we become a great listener, encouraging others to talk, and the great conversationalist enthralling our listener?
Is there anything we hate more than hearing our idea put forward by someone else and getting praise for such a great idea? What was it that made our idea fall on deaf ears when we said it, and everyone’s ears prick right up when it came out of someone else’s mouth?
It might have to do with the way it was presented or the credibility of the person presenting it. The way they spoke with authority, expecting to be heard, expecting to be respected, expected to be the one with a good idea.
We hardly notice our speech patterns. We need to watch the clichés and phrases we use. Also keep in mind how many umms, ahs, likes, basically, frankly, honestly, extremely or really slip into our sentences. Do we speak like we are apologizing for taking up space?
We need to know who we are speaking to. Our style of speech needs to be adjusted depending on who we are addressing. We don’t speak the same way to our kids as our spouse, our friends, and the boss.
What is the main point we want to get across? Many of us are not as quick as we’d like to be thinking on the fly. Taking the time to think about what we want to get across can help us say what we mean to say.
We need to get to the point. Often we try to over explain and we lose our audience. Sometimes we make the mistake of using big words when simple ones will do. We need to get to the point and be as clear and concise as possible.
If we want to get serious about this we can record our self and listen to our speech patterns. This is an exercise that makes most of us cringe. It is useful especially if we are going to do any public speaking, we want to see how we come across in an interview, or see how we use eye contact.
When we are the listener we need to fully listen, giving them our full attention. We can acknowledge we’ve heard with “oh…mmm… I see.” Instead of asking questions or giving advice we should just listen. It can be hard to finish our story when we are questioned, blamed, or advised. Encouraging sounds and a caring demeanor are invitations for people including children to explore their thoughts and feelings.
Encouragement to others is something everyone can give. Somebody needs what you have to give. It may not be your money; it may be your time. It may be your listening ear. It may be your arms to encourage. It may be your smile to uplift. Who knows? Joel Osteen
It can be helpful especially when listening to children to give a name to what they are feeling. That sounds frustrating, scary, unfair, etc.
What we are hearing people and children say may be things they can’t have right now. It might be small things or big things. The harder we explain why we can’t have fairness and justice in the world the more they protest. Sometimes we just need to understand how much they want something, and being understood makes not having it easier to bear.
When we want to impart information to people so they will change, blaming and accusations are not helpful. What is also not helpful is name calling, threats, commands, lecturing and moralizing, warnings, comparisons, sarcasm, or dire prophecies.
It will help if we describe what we see as the problem, without making it a criticism about them. “The snow being tracked into the house is not good for the hardwood floor,” is more effective than, “you are ruining the floor.”
When we express our feelings without attacking character and we state what our expectations are we are giving them the information they can work with. We can show them how to make amends, and how to make a choice between two or more acceptable choices. Making a choice is not the same as being told what to do.
We teach others how to treat us. Others teach us how to treat them. When we treat each other with respect we get respect. If we criticize others we will get criticism and judgment back. If we are mean and petty and can’t overlook little things, they will be nitpicky too.
The patterns of communication we grew up with travel with us through life. We can change them if they aren’t working for us, but first, we have to recognize what they are. What works well with one person may not work well with everyone. We are all different. If we are willing to adjust to different personalities in our families, workplace and the greater community we can talk so others will listen and listen so others will talk. We can seek to understand and seek to be understood.
Are there people in our life we can seek to understand better? Can we listen to their point of view without telling them why that point of view is wrong?
When people express opinions that differ from yours, take it as a chance to grow. Seek to understand over being understood. Be curious, not defensive. The only way to disarm another human being is by listening. Glennon Doyle Melton