Listening and The Art of Understanding

One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what the other has to say

-Bryant H. McGill

Listening. It is a skill most of us learned from birth, or at least we have been taught that it is important for that long. But, no one ever really instilled in us the innate value of truly taking the time to listen to what someone else is saying.

Listening is the art of silencing our mouths and our minds and fully engaging in what is happening around us. When we are unsure of what to do, if we listen to the inner voice that guides us we will surely find an answer. If we ask a question of someone and listen carefully to the directions or advice that another gives us, we will have found value and purpose to their answer.

Active Listening Encourages Engagement

The art of good communication requires that we utilize added skills in our listening to promote a healthy engagement with those we wish to communicate with. But what does that mean really? Active Listening?

Active listening requires the addition of several other basic skills that require practice to master. Our body language, follow-up questions, and notable interest not only encourage the speaker to continue but these actions also allow the person speaking to know that we are both understanding and acknowledging what the other is saying.

Forms of Active Listening

Body Language:

What are we communicating to the person in which is speaking to us through our body language? Posture and movement give visual cues that we are engaged, interested, and are comprehending what the other is saying.

If we are slouched and our arms are crossed, we are showing defensive blocking and perhaps a level of disinterest or objection. On the other hand, if we are upright and open in our posture with our shoulders back while also leaning in slightly towards the speaker it shows we are actively engaged.

Furthermore, simple movements such as a nodding of the head or even a thumbs up in agreement also encourage and enable the one speaking to continue.

Verbal Cues:

When someone is speaking, it is vital that they know that we are understanding what they are trying to relate to us. One way to provide them this reassurance is to provide appropriate verbal cues now and then.

Reflect & Acknowledge:

Be careful not to interrupt them. However, an occasional acknowledgment verbally by either recounting or summarizing the point they were making or offering positive encouragement by agreeing with them aids their ability to move on to their next point.

Follow-Up Questions:

In addition, when we are unclear of something we just heard it is pivotal and pertinent that we occasionally ask them a follow-up question. For instance, if we hear something that is unclear to us how better to understand their meaning than by asking a comparison question.

For Example- “John, when you said you want me to send out the paperwork on the Myers Account did you want me to email it or send it through the post office?”

In doing this, we have done a few things. First, we have confirmed that we indeed heard their directions. Secondly, we have opened a further dialogue to clarify and eliminate the possibility of misunderstanding those directions.

A Sign of Respect

When we engage in active listening, we not only understand more fully what someone is trying to tell us, but we also are showing a deep sign of respect. By practicing better communication skills, and participating more openly in the conversation we clear out any chance for confusion, mixed signals, or miscommunication.

The practice of communication is not something we are readily taught growing up and it is on each of us to hone our skills to be better prepared for the challenges that lie ahead in both our personal and business relationships.

Open and honest lines of respect and communication take effort and perseverance to achieve maximum effect. Though, with a little bit of concentrated practice, anyone can master these skills and appear more professional and well-rounded in our endeavors. On a personal note, I have taken numerous body language courses and learned much from them.

Sign up for our email newsletter list for more information on a new E-Learning Course I am putting together on The Art of Better Communication which should be ready in just a few weeks. I hope you enjoyed this read and I welcome your comments, questions, and feedback.

4 thoughts on “Listening and The Art of Understanding”

  1. This is the basic mantra of life as I think because if we are patient to listen to someone and understand then it is going to save us from unwanted troubles and worries and is also going to give us a lot of experiences even more than ‘acting’.
    Simply listening can be of great importance if equal importance is given to it.

    1. The Dalai Lama said, “When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know; But if you listen, you may learn something new.”

      I feel this is inherently true and also sage advice from an awakened spirit. Not only do we stand to learn something new, we also show respect for the person in which we are conversing.