Master the Art of Listening and Watch All Your Relationships Thrive

Posted: September 24, 2009 in I Don't Know
Tags: ,

No wonder listening is an undervalued art. Research shows that we speak at a rate of about 125 words per minute, yet we have the capacity to listen to approximately 400 words per minute. So what are we doing with that extra space in our minds when someone else is talking? Are we really listening?

I have a friend who used to multi-task when we spoke on the phone. He would respond appropriately to what I was saying, but I could hear him shuffling papers or trying to quietly order food at the deli (yes, this actually happened). Even though he was following the conversation, I felt bereft as I was sharing my innermost thoughts and feelings. Fortunately, our friendship was more important than his to-do list, and now I happily get his full attention.

Listening is essential to fulfilling relationships. If you are experiencing challenging interactions or you want your connections to deepen, reflect on how you can improve your listening skills. The benefits? Consider the following:

  • People will feel be more drawn to you; they will like you more.
  • You will learn something new.
  • You will solve problems more effectively.
  • You will experience less loneliness and frustration.
  • You will feel happier and more relaxed.

Learn to listen well, and watch all your relationships thrive. Here’s how.

  1. Pay attention
    Since our brains have the capacity to process 275 more words per minute than are actually spoken, we tend to fill up the void with extraneous thoughts. Notice how when someone is speaking, you are partially listening, while simultaneously planning the rest of your day, replaying a meeting that just occurred, or deciding what you will say next. Paying attention is the cardinal rule for good listening. Hear the words, and let their meaning in. If your mind wanders, simply re-focus your attention on the conversation.
  2. Be receptive
    If you show up with an agenda, you are not going to be available to fully hear what the other person is saying. There is no problem with having goals for an interaction, but let them go while the other person is speaking so you can hear what is being expressed. Balance your need for a given outcome with your desire to sustain a harmonious relationship.

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