How Active Listening Can Benefit Relationships
“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Stephen Covey.
How many times do you feel frustrated because you’re having a conversation and the other person just won’t listen? How does it end up? Do you start to raise your voice? Withdraw and stay quiet? Let the other person talk over you?
The problem lies in what is known as passive listening. It’s something we all do. However, it doesn’t always lead to harmonious resolution of differing points of view or to a deeper sense of connection and conversation.
This week, Dr Claire Maguire, talks about the need for active listening and sets a challenge for you to try during the coming week…
Let’s start by asking why are we not really hearing what someone else is saying?
It is often due to one of the following reasons:
- we want to reply before they’ve finished saying everything
- we have an answer that we feel will be helpful and they need to hear it asap
- we have an agenda to push regardless of what is really being talked about
- we don’t know what to do and we’re frantically searching for an answer in our heads
- we hear a key word and hone in on that to form what we should talk about
- we want to turn the conversation to ourselves and our point of view
Whatever, the reason, the result is we’re not engaged with what the person is saying as we’re too consumed with our own selves. There is nothing, in and of itself, wrong with that as listening well takes a lot of energy and effort from you. We drift around in a passive listening state.
However, what I would like to challenge you to do is to actively listen to what someone is saying. Maybe a work colleague, friend, partner or your child, whoever you choose, spend some time hearing what they say. Whether you agree or dislike what they are saying just give them the space. You can even say “for the next 10 minutes, I’m going to listen to what you have to say, no matter what it is.”
You could start by asking:
- what’s bothering you?
- what’s affecting you?
- what makes you happy?
- what’s going well in your life?
Sit back and listen to their answers. You’re honouring that person.
Then, ask them to do you the favour back and hold the space whilst you speak for 10 minutes.
Try this over the coming week, see how you get on with it and how it benefits your relationship.
Can you get to a deeper level of connection and/or see how the other person opens up when they are truly heard? Let me know what you discover…