An old proverb said that “God gave us two ears but only one mouth because listening is twice as hard as talking. ” Listening actively to one person is an attitude, a measure of both your self-centeredness and other centeredness. If most of the time you find yourself cutting a person of in a middle of a conversation, not giving any feedback and just passively look to whom you are talking to, most probably, you are ‘self-centered’. However, if you are focused on what the other is talking, listening intently and is trying to connect the dots and the hidden meanings within the conversation, then you are an ‘other centered’ listener.
To better understand what active listening is, let’s look into the people in the 1st level of listening and the people in the 4th level of listening skills. People in the 1st level of listening are termed as the “non-listeners”, these people do not hear what the other person is telling and do not make any effort to hear what the other is saying. This person primarily likes to do all the talking, rarely interested in the points of others and constantly interrupt the person who is talking. This person is disliked and tolerated by people. On the other hand, there are people who do belong in the 4th level of listening. They are collectively known as the “active listeners”. These people see things from the other person’s point of view. They do not only focus on the content but on the underlying message as well. Also, they are skillful questioners but they never interrupt to ask a question.
With this difference, one might be curious on how to move into becoming an active listener from being a non-listener? Below are some techniques:
· Paraphrasing – This involves restating in your own words what the other person has just said. This is a test of understanding and a manifestation that we really paid attention.
· Reflection – showing the person you are speaking with, that you feel what they are feeling.
· Clarifying – Asking for clarifications or questions regarding what was said.
· Summarization – involves combining the person’s statement and putting it into one concise statement.
As a leader, one should become an active listener because only when listening that we learn and grow. We can’t learn when our mouth is flapping and we could not picture ourselves in the viewpoint of others if we don’t allow ourselves to be in their positions. Also, it is through listening that we show others that we care for them, as pointed out by J. Richard Clarke, “One who cares is one who listens.”
About the Authors:
Jodi and Mike specialize in executive coaching with individuals and teams. http://lighthouse-leadership.com. By the way, do you want to learn more about leadership in your company? If so, download your FREE ebook here: Elegant Courage Leadership.
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