I fill conversations, it’s what I do. Sometimes I am so anxious to fill that voided space I know is coming, I forget to listen to what comes before.
The art of listening, piece of cake! But is it really? I believe some people are instinctively blessed with the ability to listen, some not so much. Admittedly, more often than not, I have to put myself in the latter category. It is a skill I am determined to master.
In my quest to avoid uncomfortable lapses in conversation, I sometimes tend to run through my mind what I will say while the person I am “listening” to is still speaking. That needs to stop. So I am practicing to be a better listener. I’ve found that for me, it starts with eye contact. This is not necessarily always comfortable, especially if the individual speaking is a stranger, however I find when I focus, which eye contact forces me to do, my mind wanders less, and I actually hear the words being said.
The next skill I need to work on is not interrupting. This is a hard concept for me and I’m not really sure why. I am not a rude person, and interrupting is definitely rude. So, I had to ask myself some difficult questions.
• Would I rather hear myself speak then the person who is speaking to me?
• Why am I so afraid of pauses in conversation?
• Am I contributing to the conversation, or just spewing words that are less then meaningful?
• How do I show I am trying to understand?
• Do I have any questions about what is being communicated to me, and how am I expressing those?
• Is my nervousness and eagerness to please hampering my ability to listen?
I have known some amazing “listeners” in my lifetime. They are some of the most learned, respected, intelligent people I know. On the other side of the coin, I have learned such amazing things just by becoming the “listener”, but my journey continues.
So instead of being one of the people who listen with the intent to reply….I will be the person who listens with the intent to understand. I WILL become a great listener.
“When you talk you are only repeating what you already know, but if you listen, you may learn something new.”
My mission, to learn something new every day through the art of listening!!