Successful Listening

Successful Listening

Most people say they want to become a good communicator. So they focus a lot of attention on learning how to speak and write well. That's great! However, many of us neglect the skill of being a good listener.

Why are most of us poor listeners?

  • Mostly because we tend to listen to the words in a conversation and fail to look for the meanings behind the words. This is because we tend to be focused on our own internal thinking or dialogue rather than focused on the speaker. We may be more interested in what our next statement will be or how well we are getting our message across.
  • Sometimes we daydream while we hear another talk. Our speed of thinking is four times as fast as talking speed. As a result, we aren’t concentrating and we go off on mental tangents from time to time while pretending to listen.
  • Often we will reject what the other person is saying through our own pre-conceived bias. This frequently starts an argument while setting up a roadblock to understanding.
  • Finally, we listen poorly because the day seems too short for lengthy interviews and conferences. By doing most of the talking yourself, it seems that you can keep the discussions within “reasonable” bounds. In short, there just doesn’t seem to be time to listen.

Reflective Listening

The goal of reflective listening is to verify that you understand the speaker correctly and to help the speaker feel understood.

Reflective Techniques

  • Repeat back the content of the communication – but repeat the words only, not the feelings.
  • Rephrase contents – summarize the meaning in your own words.
  • Reflect feelings – look deeply and begin to capture feelings in your own words. Include body language and tone to indicate feelings.
  • Rephrase contents and reflect feelings - express both their words and feelings in your own words.
  • Discern when sympathy is not necessary or appropriate.

Helpful Phrases to Introduce Reflection:

  • Your message seems to be, “I…”
  • You must have felt…
  • So you're feeling...
  • As I hear it, you…
  • What I’m hearing is…