Listening – Day 7

30-Day Writing Challenge

Until the age of 6, I did very little speaking. My older sister always thought she knew best, so she would always speak on my behalf. It sounds a little sad, but I’ve actually benefited from this experience… I listened to the world for years before speaking out. 

Have you ever experienced this… 

You’re sitting in a conference room and everyone is speaking past each other. No one is actually listening. Instead, while one person is speaking the other person is attempting to find spots to interject their ideas. The entire time you’re just holding onto a thought waiting for the other person to finish, so you’re able to immediately respond… This is not listening. 

To genuinely listen, you need to set aside your internal chatter to be present with what’s being said and do your best to follow the other person’s train of thought. This can be extremely hard because most of our lives we’ve been taught to speak up – If you’re not speaking up, then your status and ideas will be diminished, losing your rank in the group. That’s another misconception… 

Many people think by constantly speaking up, they’re being heard… Sadly, no. Instead, you’re playing a pointless game of who can talk the longest, without ever saying anything valuable. 

After listening throughout my life, I’ve discovered three useful tips… 

  1. Be Interested – Every single human on this planet is interesting in some way. Allowing yourself to be interested in the person you’re speaking to, intentionally exploring their thoughts trying to find something interesting to you is the name of the game. So stay interested. 
  2. Ask Questions – Questions are everything. If you’re able to genuinely listen, then there’s a good chance you’ll be able to ask good follow-up questions, diving deeper into people’s ideas and experiences. Some people rely on lists of prepared questions, but that’s only useful if you’re not “in” the conversation. I prefer to prepare a list of questions beforehand and only refer to them if they’re absolutely needed. 
  3. Embrace Silence – Too many people are afraid of silence. Most people associate silence with awkwardness, but silence is key to a great conversation. Allowing someone to sit with their thoughts and think through a response can only improve the quality of the conversation. To build your tolerance and acceptance of silence, I recommend you allow silence into your own life. 

I personally feel that we’re consumed by a world of people talking, but no one is listening… So during your next conversation take a moment to immerse yourself.