If you try one thing this week, you should try active listening. Or as on instructor I’ve had calls, “deep listening.” I’m not quite sure which term I prefer yet.
Listening is often thought of as a passive thing. We listen as our friends complain, we listen as our wives or partners tell us what to do, we listen to our boss. In our day to day lives we listen to many different people and many different subjects, but are we really listening?
According to dictionary.com “active” is described as “engaged in action.” That is a beautiful phrase, “engaged in action.” Does that make you think of listening? Do we do this when we talk/listen to the many people that we talk/listen to everyday?
Once again, according to dictionary.com “deep” is described as “extending far down from the top or surface.” This really explains what I’m talking about. Listening to people beyond simply what they are saying. Listen to their motives, their intentions, to the underlying interests that they are talking about.
Give them your full attention. Don’t play on your phone, watch TV, or check your facebook. Don’t look at the strangers sauntering by, or the barista making a latte, pay attention! Study their body language, take it all in. What’s their body saying, what’s their facial expressions saying, what’s the tone, volume, cadence in their voice saying to you? You won’t even have to say anything to them, just listen with your full attention.
Try it out this week, see what it does for your relationships, see what it does to change the way you listen.