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3 Ways to Be Compassionate »
Tuesday
Nov252014

How to Improve Listening

We are wonderfully human beings. Sometimes we listen well to internal and external input, and sometimes we don’t.  There are a few essential ingredients for improving your listening skills. Do any of these resonate with you?

 

Quiet

There are times we just can’t hear because there is too much noise or clutter within and without. This can be mind clutter, physical clutter, or actual sounds. Our focus becomes distracted by the chaos. To improve your ability to “hear,” find a quiet space with no interruptions. Close your eyes. Quiet your mind. Let it wander until your voice is audible.

 

Pause

When we’re over-the-top-busy, running from place to place, appointment-to-appointment, it’s more challenging to listen to those around us. We’re distracted by our “to do” lists, errands, and next things, and find it difficult to slow ourselves down long enough to have relaxed conversations. Take a pause. Acknowledge the frenzy. Breathe deeply. Taking a break will improve your listening skills.

 

Sleep

When we deprive ourselves of enough sleep, our concentration decreases rapidly. Being able to listen well requires focus and concentration. Getting more sleep will have a positive effect on your ability to listen.


What are you listening for? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Come join our conversation.

 

 

 

 

 

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Reader Comments (7)

It's proven turning my smartphone off increase my hearing skills. I try every time I'm with others turning my phone off or at least putting it silence mode, also between 10 pm and 8 am the phone don't blink or send any notification.
Great post Linda.

November 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNacho Eguiarte

Nacho- I LOVE that! A tech "black out" to improve your listening skills. It's more than that too, isn't it? You are more present, mindful, aware of who you're with and what's going on around you. I'm often amazed when I'm out in public. When I look around, people are intently focused on their electronic devices. They're in their own worlds, blocking out everyone and everything around them. I'm guilty of that at times too. The idea of just sitting and observing is more rare to see.

November 25, 2014 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Linda - You address fundamental elements to effective listening. In addition to quiet, pause and sleep I pay attention to my own running narrative in my head (we all do it), notice it (mindfulness) and return my attention back to the other person. As a coach I tend to listen not just to what they are saying but also to the essence of their 'who' and how they are and can show up. Listening is an amazing gift for the one talking. Thanks for focusing on this important topic!

November 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCameron Gott

Linda, thanks for the reminders - So important this time of year when the noise and chaos of the holiday week can get in the way of listening to what is most important, like the stories my dad will tell as we prepare Thanksgiving dinner, the stories my kids will share from their semester at college and the music that my audiophile husband will keep going in the background throughout Thanksgiving day. Blessings to you and yours this Thanksgiving.

November 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea Sharb

I know for my husband and me, Sunday's after breakfast are the time we have our best conversations, really listening to what each has to say. Listening is a skill we forget to use regularly.

November 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJill Robson

The biggest way I personally can improve my listening is with eye contact. I know I get distracted easily at home and with a six year old the noise clutter in my house can be nuts. So I have to stop what I am doing and look at my husband when he is talking to me to really listen. Otherwise, I find that I absentmindedly nod, agree, or respond and I don't even realize I did it! Happy Thanksgiving Linda!

November 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAutumn Leopold

What amazing gifts you added to the conversation! Thank you all for being here and sharing.

@Cam- As a Coach, you know so well that "listening" is THE skill to develop. I learned so much from you during the coaching classes. That "running narrative" can be a big distraction when it comes to listening to others. Love your suggestion of practicing mindfulness to help focus us back to the other person.

@Andrea- It's so true that the "noise and chaos" of the holidays can keep us from listening to what's most important to us. Love the examples you gave. I know what you'll be listening for.

@Jill- Isn't it interesting how there are certain times that we're more receptive to listening than others? I love the commitment you and your husband have to regularly "really listening" to one another. Beautiful!

@Autumn- Oh, this sounds very familiar. I can get completely absorbed when I'm working or writing on my computer. I have to do the same thing as you if my husband comes over to talk. I have to consciously lift my fingers off the keyboard, swivel my chair towards him, and look at his face. Otherwise, like you, I just nod and agree without really hearing what he's saying. Not good.

Wishing all of you a wonderful, joy-filled Thanksgiving with your loved ones!

November 25, 2014 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

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