I’ve often held a conversation with someone and when they walk away I have no recollection of what just took place. Either I’m getting old at a rapidly fast pace, or I need to work on my listening skills. I think it maybe because there’s so much noise in our day-to-day life that it’s sometimes difficult to differentiate between what’s important and what isn’t.
In order to hold substantial conversations, there needs to be at least a second party to engage with. Good communication or communication in general is about a sending and receiving messages. If there’s no one intercepting your message than there’s not much communication occurring. Speaking is only one-half of communicating and I have that part down. If I talk as much as I do, I can at least afford to listen just as much. So here’s the plan:
Ask questions about anything you might not have understood or heard. By conjuring up questions, you’re not only hearing the information twice but also clearing up any misconceptions. What people say isn’t always what they mean, so reflect on the words being spoken and clarify if needed. Also, offer suggestions or anything that you can relate to the topic at hand. This shows the person speaking that you understand what the discussion is about.
At the end of the conversation it couldn’t hurt to summarize the conversation briefly. I’m not referring to a synopsis as in a book report, but give a brief rundown about what was discussed. When you walk away, you’ll have a better grasp of what was just said and the other person will feel better knowing that you listened.
If you don’t want to listen, you’re not going to listen. Make a conscious effort to pay attention to the words being spoken. This doesn’t mean memorizing everything that’s said, but restrain yourself from mentally drifting or thinking about other things because there’s usually a reason why that person is talking to you. Make it worth their time.
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