Communication: The Importance of Listening

I’ve been reading a book called Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott and one of the things that this book made me think about is the importance of listening. When you have a conversation with someone do you listen, do you really listen? I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes I don’t listen nearly as well as I could. I’ve noticed myself doing a bunch of things that weren’t very conducive to a good conversation such a trying to get my points in, steering the conversation to something I want to talk about, or just letting my mind wander (what’s for dinner might be important but not necessarily at the time of the conversation). The net result is I’m often hearing the words but not the message that they carry; I’m not really listening.

Listening, actively listening is something that I don’t think happens nearly enough. I’ve started listening more since I began reading this book and I’ve discovered many things both about myself and about the conversations around. For example I’ve discovered a few things at work where people are unhappy with items of the environment but they were afraid to say anything. Until it became aware that people were listening, and I mean really listening, they weren’t willing to bring the subject up. Now that I know about these issues I can keep the conversation going as well as try addressing them. Listening will make the work environment much better for these people as well as indirectly for the whole team, where can it help you?

By taking the time to listen you can catch more of what’s being said and you can slow the talking down making sure that everyone understands each other and pays attention. I’ve noticed a few things about what I do in conversations because I slowed down to listen: I want my point out, I want people to listen to me just to name a couple. Really stopping and paying attention to the other person can often times be hard. But making that effort is important in my opinion because you start hearing what the other person is saying, sometimes these things are crucial and I’ve discovered these things at the office and at home. Making some small adjustments can solve problems before they become big. And by far the biggest benefit to really listening: People will appreciate it and take the time to listen to you more as a result so you can be heard when you have something important to say.

[tags]conversation, listening, importance of listening[/tags]

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