When was the last time you were sitting with a friend and having a conversation and found yourself listening, really listening; free from distraction, focused intently on each word your friend chose and used, completely devoted to their story. I’d venture to guess that it has been quite a while.
In today’s society, where the “disease of the busy” afflicts too many of us, it becomes a difficult task to sit down, and give someone our 100% undivided attention.
Now, let’s say that we’re able to set aside all the gadgets, gizmos, and outside distractions… what about all the distractions that go on inside our minds?
“What am I going to eat for dinner?” “I wonder why they talked about pickles” “Pickles sounds like an amazing snack right now” “Oh wait, what were they talking about again?”
I’m thinking that some of you reading this post have similar stream-of-consciousness conversations within your own head, potentially even while reading this one post. Focusing on someone’s words and hearing them fully has become a skill lost among us.
When I assume the role of a coach, I notice that I make a distinguishable change in the way that I listen to my clients. I’m listening for the little things, the pauses, the choice of words, qualifying statements, and more. And let me tell you… it can be mentally exhausting. But, the payoff comes as I have a strong understanding of my client’s needs, and I’m prepared to ask insightful questions to provoke deeper thought.
Now, I’m not saying that we all have to listen in such a manner, but I know that we all seek to have deeper friendships and relationships with those we care about. There’s no doubt that one of the best gifts that we can give to those in our community is the gift of listening. If you’re up for this, I challenge you to apply these three recommendations (in increasing levels of difficulty) to your listening skills over the next seven days.
Listening is one of the best gifts that we can offer to those people who we care about. Isn’t it a good day to start being a better listener? As you apply these recommendations to your life, I imagine that your relationships will deepen right before your very ears.