One of the first skills you're taught as a life coach is the art of LISTENING and why it is so valuable in relationships of EVERY kind. This isn't just your regular, everyday type listening mind you. This is heavy-duty, laser focus, professional grade listening! Why the heavy emphasis on being a first class listener? Because everyone has a story to tell and something to say, if you are willing to hear it. Hearing that person - really hearing them is one of the very best ways to improve relationships and resolve problems.
Here are a few easy to remember pointers to help you become a world class listener! Your friends, bosses, relatives or lover will appreciate how much better you 'communicate' – all because you learned to listen.
1) Throw out your expectations of what you THINK is being said and hear what is ACTUALLY being said.
We've ALL made this mistake. “But I KNOW what she's gonna say.” Yeah, right. Sure, people we know really well may follow predictable patterns, but communication stops when we are so cock sure we already know what they're thinking and saying so we don't have to bother listening. If you take a moment to think about it, this attitude is not about communication at all. It's about avoiding communication. If you and your partner are both doing the same thing, you might as well be talking to yourself. Nobody's listening.
2) While listening, don't think about what YOU will say after they stop talking!
Unless you are a trained coach or a professional investigator you're probably guilty of doing this. After all, you can think a lot faster than a person can talk. So as they talk your mind can run circles around the spoken word. Think back to the last argument you had. While the other person was talking you were thinking of your rebuttal, your comeback. Be honest. Nearly everybody does it.
Next time try something different. Force yourself to listen to every word that person says BEFORE you formulate what you will say next. Take a second or two to ask yourself WHY they said those words. Then and only then have your say. You may surprise yourself. It will become easier to understand the person you argued with and they will appreciate you listening attentively without interrupting. Try it next time a conversation begins to morph into a battle of words.
3) The time you save by NOT planning your counterargument while they speak is best used to form questions that could clarify and calm the situation.
Ask probing, open-ended questions that will allow wide latitude for expression. Questions that begin with who, how, what, where and when are excellent tools that you can use frequently. Avoid using 'why' to begin your questions. 'Why' can be the start of a loaded question that might sound to your listener like an accusation. A question like 'why in the world did you do that?' for example, could put them on the defensive and make things worse.
Becoming a good listener is a deceptively simple skill that will have a HUGE positive impact on virtually all of your relationships private and professional.
Try it and let me know how it goes!