Conquering the Listening Challenge

By Elaine Cercado

Have you been in a conversation where your mind just keeps wandering? Perhaps you are thinking about something else, or you are forming a reaction or response in your mind while the person is talking. You tend to rush the person talking, interrupt and say your piece hurriedly. Fret not, this situation is very common. Listening is challenging indeed.

Turning Off Distractions

We all have our little noises and voices within – while listening to someone. It could be an idea we are excited about. It could be a concern or problem we are worrying about. It could be thinking of a task, or an action with deadline waiting for us. It could be our biases and judgments, and all those conversations we have with ourselves.

Some of us are also easily distracted by external noises. It could literally be a noisy environment in the office, or in a meeting venue. It could be our mobile devices that keep showing alerts and notifications. It could be other sensory diversions like the room temperature or a visual clutter. Sometimes we could not focus due to physical tiredness or mental fatigue.

Over time, through increased self -awareness, we get to know ourselves better and learn what distracts us from pure listening. To increase self-awareness, we need to be more mindful and observant to see our patterns. Some of these things have probably been ingrained in our inner selves. Hence, they require going to the source of it to bring out more lasting change or solution. Through regular reflections, we become more aware and capable to do something to minimize, or better yet, totally avoid or eliminate the internal and external distractions.

Tuning In and Focusing

Once we turnoff those internal and external distractions, we are able to focus on the person in front of us, or the person on the phone line. We can tune into his verbal and non-verbal language. Our minds are freed, hence, we are able to give the person space to talk and not hurry. We are fully tuned in! That means we are fully present and are truly listening!

What happens from there is magical as the door to endless possibilities of true listening is opened. It could lead to empathy, understanding, appreciation, motivation, accountability, commitment, better communication, stronger relationship, results achievement, to name a few.

The first two steps – turning off the noises and voices from within, and removing external distractions – are probably the hardest to overcome. But once we have done these two steps, we are on our way to conquering the listening challenge and reaping great rewards in our relationships.

* This article was previously posted by the author in LinkedIn.

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