What a constant chatterbox our lives have become. We are so ‘obsessed’ with noise that a complete absence of it might invoke almost an eerie feeling for some of us. While the thought of being in a serene, tranquil, no-noise or even a low-noise environment may lift our mood, the reality is chaotic at best for most of us, city dwellers. You know what I mean. When noise is unavoidable, let’s hone our skills to listen fully and listen better!
Tip#1: Train your ears!
Whether you are in office, at home, in your car, at a shopping mall or out in the open, pause and be mindful of the the noises around. How many channels of sound do you hear? The AC, typing of a colleague, the chit-chat by a stranger, an ad, TV set, a twittering bird? What about the inner chattering, the noise that exist only in your head?
By being mindful of the different channels of sound around us, we train our ears and our mind to listen fully and listen better. Then we choose which track to focus and which one to ignore. We do it instinctively, the trick is do it consciously.
Whenever you have a minute to spare, practice counting the number of channels you can hear. Check with a friend or colleague in the same environment whether your number matches with her. It might start an interesting conversation!
Tip#2: Hold your thoughts!
When someone is talking to you, do you really hear him or her. Or, are you just waiting for a siltiest opportunity of her to pause when you can jump in and say what you feel is most important in that context? What do you ‘hear’ in a conversation? Is it what you want to hear or what the other person has to convey? Often we filter out the portion of the message that we don’t want to hear and register only the part that fits well with our expectation.
By holding your thoughts till the person in front has completely articulated his or her, you increase your own comprehension of the message being conveyed besides being polite to that person.
Next time while in a conversation, you actually wait till the other person has completed his statement and wait a little longer (count mentally upto 3) before you respond.
Tip#3: Respond and Not React!
We ‘react’ to a ‘person’ and ‘respond’ to an ‘issue’. Reacting is finger-pointing, name calling before the message is digested; whereas responding is summarising the understanding first and then presenting your views, thoughts or position on the matter.
By ‘responding’ and not ‘reacting’ you encourage and engage in a positive dialogue which is more likely to end in a conclusion.
Mentally go over last three instances where either you reacted on someone (I know it’s hard to accept) or someone reacted on you (this one is easy to spot) in a conversation. Think of a better way to have managed that conversation, take note.
Human ears are a physical instrument built to pick up sound signals from the environment, our mind (brain) puts the filters and completes the act of listening. By 1) training our ears, and 2) holding our thoughts before we 3) respond we can grossly improve effectiveness of our conversations. Let’s listen fully & listen better!