5 Benefits of Listening
Why not start this post off with a little humor we all can relate to about listening?
Hearing is not the same as listening. Hearing is a passive activity. It’s one of the moving parts that make us human. For those of us whose ears are working properly, it is an automatic function.
Listening is taking what you hear and making a conscious effort to understand it. It requires concentration and when you do it intentionally, you are learning.
In my focus on being a better listener, I have found 5 significant benefits:
1 – You get to know another person
When we are mindful with our ears we can learn a number of things about the person we are tuning in to. And I don’t mean you learn about them because of the words coming out of their mouth. If we really listen, we can hear what is fueling what they are saying. Maybe they are venting because they are angry or disappointed. Maybe they are explaining about their dissatisfaction at work because they feel like they could be more effective doing what they love. Or maybe as someone is telling you about how a friend reacted to their vulnerability, you hear their fear of rejection. Whatever it is, if you listen, you will get to know them and hear their humanity.
ACTION POINT: Make a mental note after the next conversation you have. Did you hear the subtle, quiet, or understated in what was communicated?
2 – You apprehend your values
When I am conversing with someone, and they say something that makes my gut twitch, I remember what was said. After I’m not with that person, I take time to discern why I felt that twitch. For instance, I was having a conversation with someone the other day and they forewarned me about a friend whom I was going to be spending time with. They told me to “be careful” because they knew some information about this friend and they felt they needed to share that information with me. As soon as they said this, I felt disturbed. After hanging up the phone, I spent about 10 minutes deciphering what bothered me about her warning. I wasn’t upset at this person, but it gave me a resolve to eliminate any and all gossip from my speech. Because I was being an intentional listener, and then chose to assess the conversation afterwards, I was able to evaluate the values I want to live by in my life.
ACTION POINT: After your next meaningful conversation, take 5 minutes and simply rehash what was said and how it left an impression on you.
3 – You make meaningful connections
So when you are listening to somebody, completely, attentively, then you are not only listening to the words, but also to the feeling of what is being conveyed, to the whole of it, not part of it. Jiddu Krishnamurti
Each one of us has experienced when the person we are spending our words on is checked out. Like the video clip at the beginning of this post. You know what I mean, they are nodding their head and chiming in with filler words (oh yeah, really, oh wow), but we know they are not present. If we are honest with ourselves, we have all done that. I have.
When we become listeners, we can actually start to feel what the other person is feeling. This isn’t some weird spiritual shit, I’m talking about the practice of listening in a way that you put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Your active attention to another person promotes respect and trust.
ACTION POINT: Remove filler words from your next conversation. Instead find a way to validate their feelings. Fully engage in the art of conversation.
4 – You are more conscious of making your words count
The recognition of the power of words has altered my writing, my listening and my speaking. It is often very difficult for me to put my thoughts into actual words as I am talking with others. My thoughts make so much sense in my head, but it feels like their clarity is annihilated as it comes out of my mouth. I have found that the greater effort I make in listening, the more intentional I am about how I want to say what I want to say or how I don’t want to say anything at all. We all remember when something negative has been said to us and we remember when someone has left us feeling validated and empowered. We know how powerful words are.
ACTION POINT: Next conversation you are having with someone, make your words count for the better in someone else’s life.
5 – You practice mindfulness
Mindful: Attentive, Aware, or Careful
As we continue on a path of being listeners, we not only become mindful of others, but we also become mindful of everyday moments. The beautiful song birds are singing in the morning, the sounds of coffee being made, the rhythm of our breathing, the trees creaking in the wind, or the cat purring.
ACTION POINT: Today, for 5 minutes simply sit and listen. No phone in your hand or any other distraction (no, not even coffee). Discipline yourself to just be and give your ears a little tuning. Try to identify all that you hear. Think about what you are thinking about. Listen to the sounds of life happening around you.
Have you noticed other benefits of listening? Share them with us in the comments or head over to the Authenticity Community and share them there.
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