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  • Writer's pictureHouria Bellatif

Where are you on the "Listening Meter?"​

Who does not want to have better conversations and more effective interactions?

It takes two to have impactful communication, it requires both parties to be active participants. Here, we will focus on listening so that the next time you're in a conversation, you will be more aware of what works for you and your audience and what does not.

Listening effectively is more complicated than it seems; otherwise, there wouldn't be so much research and content about it. It is essential to acknowledge that it is normal not to give 100% of your attention and brain power every time you are talked to. It is also worth highlighting that listening is a skill that requires work and practice; lots of it! All we can do is be more aware and help increase that percentage, especially for meaningful conversations.

It is simpler and easier to hear than it is to listen. There is a clear distinction: Anyone can hear the words being spoken, but not everyone takes the time to understand the message being communicated. Active listening requires concentration, openness, and patience to understand and process the information before responding accordingly. This type of listening shows that you value what the other person has to say and that you're interested in hearing more.

What gets in the way?

We get in our own way sometimes. Our beliefs, our need to be heard, our desire to be correct, and all the other luggage we carry with us. It's important not to make assumptions about what someone means; instead, ask questions if you need clarification.

Distractions are another omnipresent culprit. And oh boy, how many of those do we have around us nowadays? For a long time, "Multitasking" was highly regarded. Can we please stop this false narrative? All we end up doing is ineffectiveness in the tasks we took on at once.

Not being able to look at the speaker. Nothing is better than being face to face to capture everything beyond words. Think eye contact, body language, tone, posture, etc. These elements are even more critical when meeting virtually. For that, please do turn on those cameras!

Thinking about what to say next: You might sometimes feel the urge to rush and speak, so you don't forget that question, suggestion, great solution, or idea. Instead, could you write it down?

Interrupt or finish the speaker's sentences. This can make it difficult for them to express themselves and be heard.

The above suggestions will help you improve your presence here and now. It will also allow you to raise your awareness of the levels of "Listening" we navigate through before we reach the ultimate level where we "Listen to understand."

I invite you to explore these levels and think about situational scenarios you might experience in your daily lives. (More of that was outlined in a post few weeks ago Reflect on the times, triggers and situations where you find yourself in any of these levels:

Listen to the point. How often do you listen only long enough to get the main idea before your brain starts wandering? With this type of intermittent listening, we hear at a high level and start engaging in our internal analysis and monologue.

Listen to talk about self. The next type of listening is when we give enough time to absorb what others have to say until a word triggers something within us. It becomes about us, our story.

Listening to assess or criticize. Unconsciously, we analyze what we hear through our own lenses: Those are all the beliefs, past experiences we carry, and expectations.

Listening to advise, fix or act. This one might be even more difficult to avoid when you are a problem solver by nature. So, you find yourself jumping to analyzing, trying to fix or even offering a call to action. I have to admit. I am still working on this one.

Keeping these tips in mind can be challenging when you're in the middle of a conversation. If you find yourself struggling, take a step back and ask, how is this listening level helping the other person?

Listening is undoubtedly not a soft skill (I personally never liked that qualifier, but that is a topic for another day). Being able to "Listen to understand" takes time and effort to develop, but it's worth it in the long run. If you are not convinced, I will leave you with these five hidden treasures from being more masterful in the art of listening. Remember, you can become more of a....

Leader Inspirational Supportive Trusting Engaging Networker

How will you change your way of listening? What gets in your way of being a great listener? Drop a comment below. I would love to hear from you.

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