It is becoming increasingly more difficult to listen to what people are verbally saying to us. Through technology, our society has replaced the spoken word with its typed counterpart and the result has us all miscommunicating. Effective listening may be a dying art form, but as people, our desire for human connection, empathy, understanding, and validation has not waned. In fact, the more we type, and read back our conversations with others, the more likely it is that we feel isolated and unheard.
Here is “the list” on listening. When you break apart the word listen to form two words…the idea of list ten emerges. Here is my top 10 checklist for listening with purpose:
Don’t interrupt! Instead, list the numbers 1-10 (list ten) in your head so that you let others finish their thoughts before you share your own. Take time to listen, pause, and then respond. Otherwise, you risk shutting down the entire conversation.
Be curious! Everyone loves to know that they are interesting and the best way to convey that is to actively participate through asking meaningful and interested questions. A great networking tool for keeping your encounters rolling and a power life skill as well. You can learn from everyone. Keep an open mind.
Say what you mean! Especially important when you text, and email, and instant message. Honing in on the essence of what you are trying to convey leaves less open to interpretation. Think about how many messages you get every day, it is so easy to shorten responses to save time and simplify. Yet, it is this very simplification that makes us overthink what others are saying and conveying to us. Interpretations can be a breeding ground for added stress, trauma, and drama. S-P-E-L-L it out.
Answer texts and emails! When you send texts and emails to others it is in order to share information, in order to be heard. When recipients don’t respond back, our minds wander to questions about our own self-worth. When someone does not respond to you, there can be a myriad of reasons why they did not, including that they simply forgot to. The solution? Make sure that you do due diligence and get back to those that reach out to you. It is an immediate dose of human kindness.
Listening is multi-sensory! Listening with your ears is the conventional method, but do not underestimate the power of listening with your eyes and your overall body language. There are so many distractions in our daily lives that it is easy to forget how to focus on one thing, on one human, on each other. Bring energy and engagement back into your conversations by playing all in.
Make someone else the star! Every conversation you have cannot and should not be only about you. Hand over the stage, the recognition, and the spotlight when texting or conversing in person. Everyone likes to feel important.
Put the phone down! Be with the one you are with! Why have lunch with your best friend and chat with your other friends virtually? Be present. Acknowledge who you are spending time with in real time. Life is but a series of moments. Be active in the current one.
It’s not personal! When trying to be heard and not succeeding, it is most likely not at all about you. Consider if the person you want to be sharing your thoughts with is actually the right one to hear them. It is possible that their own ability to listen, to hear, and to engage is flipped to the off position. Don’t take ownership of that, it does not belong to you!
Challenge ideas! Make sure to refute the concepts and not the person behind them. A little active sparring is invigorating and thought provoking. In order to have meaningful and memorable conversations, you need to be able to listen effectively to all that is being said. A little less “fixing” of the speaker, and a little more debating of ideas and possibilities will incite deepened relationships and an innovative sharing of ideas.
Listen to yourself! You are your own true North. Trust in that. Listen to your gut and become aware of what your life is saying to you. Great cues are manifested right in front of you. Can you hear them?
Randi Levin CPC, founder & CEO, Randi Levin Coaching– is a certified transitional life strategist, author, inspirational speaker, and reinvention expert. She holds a BS Degree in Journalism from The University of Maryland and a professional coaching certification from The Institute of Professional Excellence in Coaching. She believes that we have the choice and the power to create our own legacy each and every day. Randi utilizes her Signature GPS Coaching System as a catalyst for her clients to clarify and refresh their journeys, giving them support and permission to pivot, to change, and to ask, “What’s next?” Randi is a contributor and featured expert for Huffington Post, Thrive Global, DivorceForce, Identity Magazine, and a variety of national publications and podcasts. Randi is the creator of Recoloring Life Workshops as featured in The Wall Street Journal. She is also a co-author in the best selling anthology series Get Results! – A toolbox for change and transition