Do We Really Listen?

Many times, we learn about how to grow in a relationship, or how to become better partners or employees through communication. We learn that communication is key in any setting, and we must try to talk clearly, in a way that would leave no room for wrong assumptions. But it’s really easy to forget that listening is part of communication. In fact, it’s probably the most important part. Half of the time, it seems as though we’re just waiting for our turns to talk. And while waiting, we don’t care to attend to what is being said. Even worse, we hardly listen to what is not being said.

Here are a few important things to know about listening:

Listening does not involve only hearing.

While hearing is the passive, natural ability that comes with having fully functional ears, listening is a conscious act that requires concentration. So, unless you are hard of hearing or Deaf, you most certainly hear. Whether or not you listen is what’s being questioned.

In order to communicate effectively, you must listen.

Communication is a two-way street. In order for it to be complete, there must always be a listening party. In this speech-oriented age, so-called communicators are either speaking or waiting to speak. This only means that while one person is speaking, the other person, who should be listening, is thinking about what to say when it’s his/her turn to speak. Needless to say, you can’t pay attention to what’s being said when you are solely focused on expressing your own opinion. And you can’t respond accurately when you are not paying attention.

Listening is an important networking skill.

One way to make a good impression while networking is by listening. It seems counterproductive since networking should be about selling your brand. However, networking shouldn’t only be about you. You should network in order to gain information about your networking partner. You want to know what they are looking for, and how you can best present yourself to fit their interests. A sure way to know this is by listening.

When you listen, you hardly miss a thing- even what’s not being said:

Non-verbal communication happens more often that you would think. Things like body language can send more messages than a few words. So, if you’re paying attention, it’ll be hard to miss these silent messages.

 

In general, listening may seem like it’s not such a big deal. But you’ll never know the difference until you keep quiet and pay attention.