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How and why we should listen more

Hiya, how are you doing today?................................Oh my god, me too!..............................No, way! That same thing actually happened to me two weeks ago……............................Yeah, I was thinking that I might start doing a juice cleanse.

So what do you actually want to do about this issue?…….........................Yeah, I was thinking that we should try this approach…......................... yeah…….....................how about this option?……..........................My other half did that first thing and it worked really well for them.

Pleased to meet you, what do you currently do?........................Oh my Dad/cousin/sister used to do that……................Yeah I didn’t want to follow that path……................... Mmmm……......................So I'm a technician/ analyst/ service manager but I really want to be a circus performer

Sound relatively familiar? How many conversations have you started or responded to that have followed this pattern? You constantly feel like you're either planning your next response or not being listened to. Then you walk away feeling like you can't remember anything you've just been told or that you've just found out a huge amount about someone else's life that you never asked for…both scenarios are pretty frustrating.

Listening properly is a skill that is integral to coaching. It's also something that is not done enough in our everyday lives. Asking a question and then actually listening to the answer takes real concentration and patience but it's something that can add a huge amount of sincerity and positivity to our relationships. Think of how you feel when someone you haven't seen in a while asks a sincere question about something you told them in the past. Or if someone surprises you with an experience or gift that you mentioned you wanted to do or have. These moments can make us feel so good and the reason for this is because you feel like you've been listened to.

When you listen sincerely to someone it implies a number of things. You're letting them know you find them interesting. You're validating that the information they're sharing is worthy of your time. And you're demonstrating that they person who is speaking is worthy of your time too. In short, it's a real confidence boost and validation of someone's worth. As well as making someone feel great about themselves, listening is also beneficial for a number of reasons:

Listening properly means you learn more - when someone is talking they're imparting information. No matter how relevant you think it might be, you will always have learnt something from listening properly to them.

When you reply, people are more likely to listen - if you have given someone your time and full attention, it's much more likely that they'll return the favour and you can be more confident that you'll be listened to in return

It will give you insight into someone else's views and opinions - despite most people being similarly rational, our opinions and views (particularly political ones) can often greatly differ. If you listen carefully to someone, you gain insight into where their views come from and why they have their beliefs which can be beneficial for getting a more in-depth conversation started. Instead of jumping to conclusions as to why people have certain opinions, it is more helpful to have a conversation and really listen to their response before you make your judgement

It helps you establish more measured, thoughtful responses - there's a lot to be said for people who wait to respond to a question or call for input until they've listened to others instead of firing off ideas or opinions in an attempt to seem more knowledgeable. If you take the time to formulate your response or idea after listening to and incorporating other people's opinions, it's likely that you'll gain more traction and a positive reaction from others. You'll also appear more relaxed, in control and considerate - excellent qualities to help you hold sway in many different situations.

So next time you're having a conversation, in a meeting, on the phone to someone or attending an event, take the time to really try and listen to what's being said. I'm really trying to be much more aware of how much I'm listening and how often I'm not and I'm aiming to improve on this all the time. It's actually really hard and takes a lot of practice but even if you're a tiny bit more conscious you'll be surprised at what you can get out of it.


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