2+1 Hear, Listen, then Speak

Family Bridges

2+1 Hear, Listen, then Speak

Contributed by
Charles Woehr

I love to give good advice! If anyone asks me to give him or her advice on any given situation that may be affecting their state of mind or of matters of the heart, I will surely give them some type of recommendation, or soothing advice. It’s something that gives me great satisfaction. And that’s my problem! In fact, sometimes I am so anxious to give advice that I don’t allow the other person to finish expressing their need and I’m already interrupting, to make a personal analysis and offer potential solution.

It seems like “my problem” is a common one amongst other people: it gives us satisfaction to be able to provide advice to others; talk and talk about the things we think they need to hear. Someone once said that the reason why we have two ears and only one mouth is because we need to listen double the amount we speak. For some, this works the other way around: we speak double the amount we listen. (and we would still need to analyze if we are truly listening or not.)

When someone is going through a tough time they normally need to talk to someone about their concerns; they need to someone to listen to them, since they feel that if the other person listens, they will take away the heavy load from their shoulders. They will no longer feel so lonely. Now, when you interrupt the other person to start giving them advice it’s like you’re telling them: “I really don’t care about what you’re talking about, what I have to say is far more important.” The truth is, that when you listen to what the other person is saying, with your heart, you are offering them the most important gift you have to offer.

You can learn to listen. Yes, it’s something you can learn: by listening. And don’t confuse waiting patiently for your turn to talk, as listening. To listen well, it is necessary to put your best efforts into what’s required to speak.  There are a couple of impediments that you will need to overcome in order to listen well. Check out some of them:

  1. Do not interrupt. Resist giving your opinion, even if it seems like you can’t wait to say something.
  2. Your mind can think about a couple of things at a time. Just like when you remember you left something at home.
  3. Your mid can be easily distracted, not once but a couple of times during the same conversation. Probably because you’re looking at what’s going on in the background, or you noticed something in the person’s face or clothing.
  4. Every thing the other person says reminds you of a similar experience you had. (In fact, your start thinking about so much that you start focusing more on your interior voice more than the other; so much that you might’ve tuned out the other person).

We could continue talking about all the distractions that can make it difficult to listen; there’s many more. But let’s focus on the things that we can practice to be a better listener and overcome the mentioned distractions. Here are 4 tips:

  • Listen to all details mentioned;
  • Look into the other person’s eyes and try not to focus on anything else;
  • When it’s your turn to talk, repeat a couple of things the other person said to you (this will show them that you were truly listening); and
  • Before responding with your opinion ask questions to clear any misunderstanding or to find out if the other person has more to say.

These tips can help you become a better listener. Now, if I may ask: While Reading the paragraph, were you aware of any distractions? Were you able to fully concentrate on what you were reading? Would you be able to tell someone exactly what you read, word by word? It’s not easy, is it? But you can get better at it and so can I. Make it a goal to become a better listener. In your net conversation with a family member or friend, allow them to talk as much as they can, be brief and precise in your responses. You will note that you can do a lot better when you actually try. And the other person will be very thankful for it.

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