In our last post we discussed the fact that listening is one of the most crucial, if not the most crucial aspect of communication. So why don’t they listen to me? Maybe because people speak 130 words a minute but our thinking speed is 500 words a minute…lots of time to become distracted. Chances are THEY listen the same way you do.

One important way to improve is to figure out what interferes with your active listening skills,  aside from the above statement. How do you slow your processing so you hear what is actually being said?

First, let’s talk about what other things interfere with effective listening — and consequently result in poor communications and poor interpersonal relationships:
• We don’t clear our minds before entering into a conversation or listening to a person’s presentation. Many people will multi-task, especially while on the phone. Even in a face-to-face exchange, some people multi-task in their heads, solving problems and making lists while the other person gets to their point (which we have decided we already know)!

• We experience emotions which distract us from listening further. It doesn’t take much of a trigger for our feelings to pop up. A look, a phrase, and we are off and running with anxiety, fear, or anger. Our ability to listen is seriously impaired when we are distracted by feelings, especially those we wouldn’t want to admit to.
• We are thinking about our reply. We are so concentrated on making a rebuttal, or on sharing a similar experience, we cease listening to the speaker, and may not even hear important information that makes our response inconsequential or inappropriate. We miss opportunities to build and strengthen relationships by jumping in and speaking too soon.
• We are thinking about the subject from our own perspective rather than trying to understand it from the speaker’s point of view. Our perception may so differ from the perception of the talker that a totally different interpretation of the information may occur. Our minds need to be open and exploring new information rather focusing on what we know.
While everybody “knows” how to listen, not everybody practices effective listening techniques which can rapidly improve communications, strengthen relationships and form strong interpersonal skills for work and family success.

Next time let’s discuss what is involved in active listening. Until then, remember that leading others starts by leading yourself first.


Your Profitable Business Coach Nancy