There is another side to communication you don’t hear about as often, an equally important part. Listening. I’ll be the first to admit there have been many times; too many to count, that I was thinking about my own response while someone else was talking. This includes my children and spouse, and in fact without a doubt they are the ones who have experienced it the most with me, because I communicate with them more than anyone.
I wanted to take the time to point out and remind myself how important being a good listener is. Resisting the urge to think mainly about my response when having a conversation is something I want to be aware of and work on. Think about how much it means to you when someone takes the time to understand you, or at least tries to understand you.
It doesn’t matter if you are trying to be a leader at work, at school, or at home with your children. Part of being a good leader is listening well, and consciously trying to understand someone. It is important to attempt to fully understand another’s situation before adding your point of view. I think we can learn and understand so much more about others, including and most importantly in my opinion, those we love and think we already know.
Listening well, doesn’t mean you have to agree. Just because I listen to why my son wants to do some of the interesting things a 4 year old comes up with, does not mean it is a good idea. I am responsible for guiding him, but with personal experience I have found the times I actually took the time to listen to his reasoning, and repeat to him my understanding of what he was saying. He was able to take no for answer a lot better.
It is easy when you are in a rush or very busy to cut them off, and not listen. I am very guilty of it, but I want to do better. Being a good listener sets a good example, and I believe will make others better listeners as well. Sometimes all someone needs is an open mind and heart to listen, and truly hear them.
It is not only those who speak things eloquently that make a big impact; sometimes it is the ones who listen best. If the speaking side of your communication is not your strong point, stay positive and try making your impact on the world, and those you love and surround yourself with, the listening side.
Do you have any tips for becoming a better listener you would like to share?