Posted by: Jo Banks
Not just listening to what someone is saying but really hearing what they're saying something that can be learnt and will massively increase your communcation skills.
It never ceases to amaze me how much of their inner most thoughts and feelings that my clients are willing to tell me. At least, a couple of times a week I must hear, “I really wasn’t intending to tell you that” or “I’ve never told another soul what I’ve just told you.” So what is it that I do that gets people to actually open up to me in a way that they don’t with others?
You could say it’s because they’re paying me, but payment will only get you so far. Individuals only open up if they feel that you're actually listening to them, without judgement. That’s exactly what I do, I listen. I don’t just mean superficially hearing what they have to say, I REALLY listen with minimal interruptions (except to ask pointed questions where I want to probe a little deeper). Listening skills practised frequently and thoroughly mastered have huge positive impact on relationships both at home and at work.
So few of us properly listen to each other, we are usually patiently (or sometimes not) waiting for our turn or our chance to have our say. When the other person is talking, we aren’t really listening we are formulating what we are going to say next and looking for a good point to interrupt and get our point across. Have you ever been around someone who continually interrupts? Of course, you have, it’s annoying and really quite frustrating and you don’t usually want to be around that person for long. It can make you feel undervalued and that your opinion doesn't count.
What happens when you actively listen to someone is they feel valued and that their views matter. As a result, they will open up to you in ways you probably will never have thought possible.
Here I've listed five techniques that will help increase your listening skills:
Your task for the next couple of days (should you choose to accept it) is to practise active listening. Take some extra time to listen to what people are saying, I think you’ll find it fascinating!
Visit the website for Jo Banks' first book, Thoughts Become Things now available in paperback and Kindle formats.