You would think that as a Psychologist I must be an amazing listener, especially at home. Well, please don’t ask my wife or family … The truth is, listening doesn’t come very naturally to me – I love to be the one talking!
In fact, most people would describe listening as a ‘passive’ process of sitting back and letting the other person talk until you finally have a chance to say something!
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Active listening is more than just waiting for the other person to stop talking so you can say something. It is understanding what the other person is really saying in the conversation.
~ Dr. Paul Tournier
Here are four commandments that, if followed, will help you become a great listener:
THOU SHALT FOCUS AND TUNE IN
We have all experienced someone who we knew was not sincerely interested in what we had to say, leading us to feeling like we don’t matter. An active listener sees the value of understanding the other person rather than pretending they are interested.
Tuning in has to do with empathy – trying to get into the other person’s shoes. When someone is talking, the goal is to understand what they are experiencing and feeling. Practice focusing and tuning in.
THOU SHALT NOT JUMP TO CONCLUSIONS
I was looking for an important folder in my home office and grew more and more frustrated when I couldn’t find it. My wife started to say something about the folder and I abruptly cut her off. You see, I just KNEW that she was going to tell me how unorganized I was. I jumped to the conclusion of what I thought she was going to say without even giving her a chance to say it!
After cutting her off two or three more times I finally said, “What do you want to say!!??” Calmly, she looked at me and said that the folder I needed was downstairs on the kitchen table. By jumping to conclusions, I not only made her feel unimportant by the way I talked to her, I missed the chance to learn something – that my folder was just sitting there ready to be found!
~ Proverbs 18:13
THOU SHALT MAKE A COMMITMENT TO LISTEN
Are you generous with your time and attention with those who matter most to you? Whether it is a family member, client or friend, schedule time to listen, to find out what is going on in their life. Be available to listen.
Schedule a date with your spouse, take your child to a special dinner or activity or ask a client how their weekend was and then REALLY LISTEN.
THOU SHALT TALK LESS AND LISTEN MORE
It isn’t possible to talk and listen at the same time! Commit to the basic principle of talking less in a conversation while listening more.
Norm Wright, a specialist in relationship building, says,
“Listening doesn’t come naturally nor does it come easily to most people. Most people prefer to be the one speaking. We like to express our ideas. Most people do not want to hear as much as they want to be heard. Because of this we concentrate more on getting our word into the conversation, rather than giving full attention to what the other person is saying.”
I encourage you (and myself!) to follow the 4 Commandments – discover that as you actively listen, you will understand others while being changed yourself!
~ Wilson Mizner
Question: What Commandment have you been ‘breaking’ that has hurt the relationships (family, business, friendships) that matter to you most? I would love to hear your thoughts on this! You can leave a comment below.