What is your relationship with listening?
Listening is considered a key skill in the relational field, from the work of managers, to relationships between parents and children, as well as in the school environment, listening is a fundamental element for establishing quality human relationships. How do we feel when someone shows they listen to us? On the contrary: what kind of emotions do we feel when we are not listened to? Listening can be considered in different ways, for example, we can test ourselves with our ways of listening to start reflecting on the effect that these modalities have on others: in the conversation we can place ourselves with a “cosmetic” listening in the moment in which it seems, that I listen, actually my mind is elsewhere; conversational listening, I get involved in conversation by listening, talking, thinking (sometimes also about other things); active listening: my focus is on what you are saying, I pay attention to record the data; global listening listening with all my senses my focus on you, and I can perceive the sense of who you are.
Very often in the conversations the judgment intrudes and does not allow an effective and global listening to the other. When judgment intrudes, this warps our ability to listen and it is as if two versions of reality end up opposing each other.
Listening in the absence of judgment allows us to truly listen to a person and this means offering dedicated attention, in whatever form the communication takes place – through words, gestures, posture, silence … – in such a way as to grasp all of them the richness. Listening in this way involves not only hearing but also all of our senses.
How can we improve our listening skills?
In a society characterized more and more by speed, noise and hyperconnection that paradoxically distances, it seems really difficult to listen carefully our interlocutor. Thomas Gordon, an American psychologist who has dealt with effective communication, highlights how active listening promotes communication and the improvement of relationships.
Active listening is an assertive communication technique, based on acceptance and empathy, useful not only for promoting the ability to correctly and effectively express one’s emotions or arguments, but also to know how to listen and perceive reasons and feelings of others, establishing an authentic contact that can become the basis for enriched and effective relationships.
How can I prepare myself for greater listening?
How do I relate to ideas, opinions, thoughts that are very different from mine?
How do I prepare myself to listen to the emotions of the other?
How do I use my non-verbal language to prepare myself for listening?
Here are some tips to improve your listening skills:
To paraphrase. It is a modality of intervention that does not interpret the words spoken by the other, but reflects what has been said without changing the construction of the speech or the emotional content expressed. For example, “are you telling me that …”, “if I understand correctly, you felt …” then using the same words as the interlocutor.
Non-judgment and acceptance of other people’s thoughts. It is not necessary that the ideas of the speaker and the listener converge and it is not advisable to make attempts to change them. What matters is to give dignity to every truth, even the most subjective.
The use of first-person messages to communicate feelings (“I feel”, “I feel”). It is a technique that allows the other to get in touch with personal experiences: feeling that the interlocutor is communicating his or her state of mind with authenticity, consequently he will not take a defensive attitude.
Use of contact signals. These signals are mostly made of benevolent glances, smiles, nods of assent with the head or face. They are important because they indicate an encouraging and reassuring presence, especially in moments of hesitation and uncertainty, without going into the merits of the contents of the communication. The habit of listening is also the will to pay attention with the desire to understand what the other wants to say, it also develops thanks to the example that one of the two interlocutors wants to give, and like every competence it needs training and continuous exercise.