Can you hear me now?

(This post takes about 3.5 minutes to read)  

I believe this is a well-known phrase popularized by Verizon. One of life’s most frustrating experiences is speaking but not being heard. We all have a need to be heard, whether what we are saying is something important or not to the other person.

So what happens when we think of being heard from a listener’s perspective? What if we could be able to answer “yes” to that question “Do you hear me now”? After all, in a conversation, if at least one of us is listening, we have the chance for a meaningful exchange.

But unfortunately, we all think we are good at listening. A study at Wright State University surveyed more than 8,000 people from different vertical industries. Almost all of the people rated themselves as listening as well as or better than their co-workers. So everyone is better than average? It is a common misconception in many parts of life that we think we are better than average. Of course, that is not possible. Would you rate yourself “above average” in listening?

I love this quote:

“The word listen contains the same letters as the word silent.” –Alfred Brendel

You can read numerous articles on more effective listening. I am not going to repeat their recommendations and exhortations. But the idea of “silent” is a great start to being a good listener. “Silent” means more than “not speaking”. Silent also means “quieting your mind”. When you can bring yourself to silence the inner voice, to be present, you have a chance to be listening. When you make silent the desire to start formulating your response to the other person, you probably are a better-than-average listener

Doesn’t better listening come from a desire to understand the other person? Think about it. If we really want to understand someone, we make a conscious effort to listen. We are focused – on what they are saying. If we don’t understand, we ask questions. If we think we understand, we might try to clarify what we hear. We might repeat what we think we heard and ask if we “got it”. It always comes back around to focusing on them. We probably also use more of our senses than just our ears. For instance, we might look at their facial and body gestures to see what else might glean.

But we don’t impose our own thoughts, biases or understanding

We don’t look for a spot to rush their thinking

We don’t try to tell them how our experience is so different or similar

We don’t have our cell phone or computer out, trying to multitask

We don’t try to finish their sentences

We don’t focus on ourselves

We simply focus on the other person

That does not seem that hard to me. It does not take super strength or intelligence. It doesn’t require particular knowledge or expertise. You do not need a degree or certification. It does require a little sacrifice – setting aside our own agenda or ego is not easy. Setting aside our agenda requires effort. It requires a conscious decision to be present.

Think of it this way. Have you ever heard of someone who is characterized as “They listen too much”? On the other hand, we could all probably say about someone, “they talk too much”? Looking for a potential New Year’s Resolution? How about becoming a better listener?

If you really desire some more concrete steps to better listening, here is a good article:



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