“When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.” –Ernest Hemingway
If you want to improve your communication skills, listening is a very integral part of it. And listening isn’t limited to just hearing out what the other person has to say—it is about being attentive and intentional about wanting to understand what the other person has to say.
A lot of people say that listening has become a lost art in our day-to-day communication. Most people listen with the intent of responding when we should be listening to understand.
That is why a lot of relationships turn sour and efforts to communicate with other people fail. Conversation, after all, is a two-way street, and if you are both busy formulating your replies instead of paying attention to what the other person is saying, how can you say you’ve communicated well?
Today, a lot of people feel unheard, and it results in feeling disconnected and lonely. We all want to be heard, and in our rush to talk about ourselves because we desire to be understood, we forget that the other person also feels the same.
As Bryan McGill said, “One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what the other person has to say.”
And do not mistake attentive or active listening for staying silent. Yes, it is basic to let the other person speak uninterrupted if you want to listen to them attentively, but that is only part of it. Being silent isn’t the same as paying attention.
The art of listening includes respect, patience, open-mindedness, and genuine care. When we unlock that lost art, we can be capable of listening with actual curiosity about the other person.
We maintain eye contact and pay attention not just to their words but to their body language as well. We ask questions and react to their answers accordingly. And we listen without preconceived or unconscious biases.
Sometimes it is easy to misinterpret or mistranslate what other people say. They call it “putting words in other people’s mouths,” and if it has happened to you, you know how offensive and hurtful it can be. Especially when the person we are talking to is someone we value.
Most of the conflicts we have due to miscommunications stem from the fact that we failed to listen intentionally.
This applies to all aspects of our lives, whether personal or professional.
Leaders, most importantly, need this skill. Attentive listening fosters a good culture of communication with your team and builds that trusting relationship. When you are a good listener, you create an environment where everyone can listen and feel heard.
And when you listen, you get to learn new things and expand your horizons.
As the Dalai Lama said, “When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.”
It is hard to give your 100% to listening all the time—distractions are inevitable in the fast-paced lives we live. But rediscovering the lost art of listening can improve our relationships drastically and unlock new levels of self-awareness and self-love.
When we extend our respect to others through listening deeply, we also gain newfound self-respect. Plus, when we make others feel heard, they reciprocate by making us feel heard too. It is a beautiful give-and-take.
Thank you for reading A Brilliant Tribe.