Genuine Listening, A Precious Gift:
4 Strategies to Improve Conversations
“Most people do not listen with intent to understand, they listen with the intent to reply.”
– Stephen R. Covey
You are out with a group of friends or colleagues. One person is talking about her children. Another boasts about a recent trip. Two people are bantering about a political situation. You look around and realize people are speaking, but nobody is listening!
How important is listening?
You know listening is important, but have you ever considered genuine, active listening as a game-changer in professional and personal conversations?
Effective communication is key to achieving our goals. Listening is an essential ingredient that strengthens relationships and connections. Truly listening with the intention to understand is one of the greatest gifts we can share. Benefits of powerful listening include exploring and generating new ideas, enhancing problem solving, resolving conflicts, inspiring meaningful interactions, and expressing caring and positive regard. In the workplace, listening can contribute to greater productivity and engagement.
What is real listening vs. pseudo listening?
Simply getting quiet when someone is speaking is not necessarily an indicator of active listening. In their book, “Messages: The Communication Skills Book”, McKay, Davis, and Fanning (2009) explain that real listening involves a commitment to understand the speaker’s perspective. Real listening involves one of these four intentions: wanting to understand someone; seeking to enjoy someone; learning something; or offering assistance/comfort. These behaviors starkly contrast with pseudo (false) listening when we may be thinking about what we want to say next, half listening because we aren’t actually interested, or are listening for a specific thing we want to hear. How frequently do you try to look like you are listening when your true focus is elsewhere?