You Have My Complete Attention!

Do you remember when you last said those words?  When was the last time you REALLY listened to someone?  When did you give your UNDIVIDED attention to what was being communicated without already forming your response?  I’d hazard a guess and say that it doesn’t happen too frequently. Knowing that someone is not listening or paying full attention is stressful particularly if it happens on an ongoing basis.  Many relationships suffer from communication breakdown related to one or both of the partners not listening.

Poor listening skills are developed throughout life.  They begin with bad habits such as not paying attention, listening but not hearing due to preconceived ideas, rehearsing a response while the other person is still speaking, interrupting and not waiting for the real meaning to be divulged and hearing what is expected rather than what is meant and so on.

So how well do you listen?  Read through the following and rate yourself:

Do I have your undivided attention?

Do I have your undivided attention?

Listening Grades:
  “HUH” – “I don’t know what you said,” (implying “and I don’t care!”)
 “Yes – BUT” – speaker only hears “BUT.” You let the other person talk but you have been preparing your response, not listening.

 “HMMMM” – just quietly passively listening.  You are letting the other person talk but not preparing a response.

“Aaah” – actively listening.  You are really trying to understand.

“Let me see if I understand what you just said, “…” is that what you said?” You can tell the other person just what he/she told you.  She/he knows you understand.

Same as “A” but stating the other’s thoughts in a more compelling way than she/he did in the first place.
To improve your listening skills, identify your own bad habits and make an effort to change them. Become an ACTIVE listener.  It takes mental effort and attention but you will be rewarded with more effective communication and less misunderstanding.   So remember:

  • Avoid prejudging
  • Listen with the mind, not the emotions
  • If the subject is boring, listen for information that is useful or important
  • Notice non-verbal language
  • Shut out distractions and concentrate on the message
  • Be intellectually curious

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