Maxwell Stephens

3 Ways To Move From Hearing To Really Listening

People often use the words, ‘hearing’ and ‘listening’ interchangeably but there are vital differences between the two. Hearing is the passive intake of sound, whereas hearing is the act of intentionally working to comprehend the sounds that you hear. Just ‘hearing’ will result in misunderstanding and confusion amongst people but listening enables a clear communication and allows for tasks to be understood and completed more easily.

Practicing active listening

Active listening is when action is taken in order to listen to others, it involves using certain strategies such as being fully present, keeping good eye contact and asking opened-ended questions. Being fully present with the conversation enables you to concentrate on what is actually being said whilst using all of your senses and giving your full attention towards the speaker. Keeping good eye-contact is especially important, it tells the other person that you are present and are listening to what they are saying, also it shows that you are not distracted by anything else around you. Asking yes or no questions can result in dead-end answers which is not helpful at all and it kills the conversation. Asking open-ended conversation shows that you are interested and are keen to continue the conversation, making the speaker feel more comfortable and willing to continue.

Try to apply and understand

Seeking to understand what the other person is saying and finding value within their point is vital when trying to really listen. It is possible to pretend that you understand people’s feelings and, more particularly, their concerns. As humans we are programmed to detect and dislike insincerity, your pretense will be detected, probably through subtle hints in your body language. The other person may not even be aware of detecting it, but will begin to feel uncomfortable with the conversation and may find that they do not really trust you. False empathy may be counter-productive, those who are genuinely empathetic will gain a different response. There is no question that empathy and understanding others are important soft skills. Understanding others does not you have to agree with a person’s feelings or point of view, instead you recognise theirs are different to yours.

Focus on more than just your response

When speaking to somebody, thinking of what you’ll say next means that you are not truly in the conversation. Listening is crucial to our success in the future of work. During a conversation, make sure to nod your head slightly as a person talks, look the speaker in the eye and occasionally repeat what the speaker said to show them that you are listening.

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