Do you ever find yourself wondering if, even after an hour-long conversation, the person you were speaking with was truly listening to what you said and if you were listening to what they had said, in turn? In today’s society especially, people are arguably more eager to express what is on their mind and concentrate on preparing what they are about to say rather than focusing on what someone else is telling them. While some professionals may override this as selfishness or being egotistical, the truth is more concretely found in how society has an unfortunate ailment in genuine understanding. With that said, the occurrences of miscommunication are all too regular.
Hearing vs. Listening
It is an accurate assumption that most people use the words “hear” and “listen” in place of one another. Contrary to their belief, these words are not listed as top synonyms and have two completely different meanings. The dictionary defines the word “hear” simply as “to perceive sound.” On the other hand, the word “listen” is defined as “to concentrate on hearing somebody or something” or “to make the conscious effort to hear.” Basically, when a person hears another, they know what the other person said, whereas if a person listens to another, there’s more of a compassionate, heartfelt understanding of what the other person said. The act of listening implies that the person is in full-awareness and completely experiencing the moment at hand. The person is present.
Listening to another is imperative in order for intimate, close, authentic relationships to be maintained. Proper listening can be practiced but requires four fundamentals: understanding, pleasure, learning, and assisting. The number one key piece to listening is the understanding because it is where you have to get “outside” of yourself and grasp a portion of another person’s life. By understanding, you took time to value a piece of someone else’s life and comprehended it. This rolls right into pleasure because you are enjoying someone else’s bit of information and ultimately, who they are as a person. No matter what it is about, you will learn something, though it is up to your discretion whether it’s substantial enough to store in your memory or not. When the person is done communicating their part, you should assist by either providing commentary in response or offering suggestions. When two people have this clearcut listening of one another, they show the ability to communicate effectively.
What prevents the ability to communicate effectively?
There are several ways that people prevent adequate listening, whether intentional or not. These each fall under what is commonly referred to as The Twelve Blocks to Listening: comparing, mind reading, rehearsing, filtering, judging, dreaming, identifying, advising, sparring, being right, derailing, and placating. After reading the list, you might be wondering just how it is that you listen effectively then. According to the book, “Messages: The Communication Skills Book,” there are four steps: listening actively, listening with empathy, listening with openness, and listening with awareness. To listen actively means that you are grasping the full message. In the duration that you are genuinely hearing out the other person, you may find it best to paraphrase and reiterate what they have told you, in order to better comprehend and allow the person the opportunity to correct anything you may have misinterpreted.
The key to effective communication is being empathetic in your listening is to “simply know that everyone is trying to survive,” as claimed in the “Messages” book. This means that you should keep in mind how the person speaking is another human being. You should be aware and compassionate of this. Do not let your thoughts become misdirected to judgement. See them as the person they are and try to hear them out entirely. Listening openly should also help you abstain from judgement. Awareness is another crucial piece in listening because if the person’s body language does not match with the topic they are expressing, it becomes far easier to get a wrong or partial message. Partial messages are explained as when something is not mentioned. They play an important role in miscommunication rising.
When you can master the art of listening, you will be able to pull specific patterns out of spoken language. This makes you capable of deciphering what someone may really be trying to convey but can’t since they themselves may possibly not be aware of how to communicate effectively.