Wednesday, May 5, 2010

What did you say??

"You're not listening to me." My husband said to me recently. And its true. I wasn't. I was focused on my Nook or playing on my phone or something (I know, I know after I wrote that damn blog saying how I wasn't gonna be that type on the phone not paying attention to what's around me!). How often to we sit down and think about how important it is to be a good listener? How often do we make sure we are truly being a good listener?

A lot of times when we actually listen to what another person is saying we find out a lot more information about them and what is really going on with that person. Listening helps to build rapport and relationships and can leave both parties feeling validated by the conversation that they've had. I know if I have something going on in my life and can find a good friend or family member to listen to me, and truly listen, not to butt in or give me a story about how that happened to them (which can be helpful, just wait until my story is over ;) ), I feel much better and happy to have been able to get what's on my chest, off. Sometimes all I need is someone to just hear what I have to say. No advice necessary. Or sometimes I do like advice, or just to hear that you understand what I feel--the tricky part is to give that at the right time. I believe the biggest part is that I feel listened to and that the other person heard all that I said and evaluated it before speaking.

One of my co-workers does this seminar/training on listening. He says there is 2 kinds of listening, active and passive. Active listening is when you sit down, clear your mind, and hear everything that comes out of the other person's mouth before speaking. This can be hard! You really have to push all your thoughts aside and focus only on the other person and what they say. Passive listening is when you are thinking thoughts as the other is talking (maybe about what they are saying, and maybe about something completely different). We have all been there, when you're talking and the other person looks like they aren't paying attention (cough, cough, me the other night with my husband) or when they interrupt you with questions or comments that could have been answered if they would've kept listening. This can leave the other person feeling frustrated and could potentially affect them coming to you in the future to talk. It's the active listening that we all want when we are in conversations with others. To feel heard and listened to.

I know I am in no way or shape where I should be in regards to my listening. But, I realize that and am working on it. I want to be a friend that others can feel comfortable coming to me, and that I will listen to them without judging, interrupting, or trying to one up their story with a story of mine (unless my story relates and I have advice from this experience--not to just to turn the attention on myself). I am going to consciously try to be an active listener frow now on because I realize how truly important it is. Sorry honey, for not listening to you the other day.

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