My 2-year old was crying at the top of her lungs outside of my bedroom door. No one could figure how to calm her down. Does she want to eat? Is she thirsty? Does she need a diaper change? The wailing continued.
She came into our room and I picked her up. I cradled her in my arms, wiped away her tears and smoothed down her hair. Within five minutes she was sound asleep. Sometimes it can be as simple as that.
My daughter is still learning how to find the right words, but engulfed in her own exhaustion she was unable to communicate what she needed. If I insisted on focusing on her crying rather than her body cues, it would have been an unnecessary long night filled with misunderstandings and frustration.
Habit 5 of Seven Habits of Highly Effective People says “Seek first to understand and then to be understood.”
We all have our to-do lists, so when we sit down for a conversation, it can be challenging to turn the attention away from our needs. Interpersonal communication takes time, so don’t rush it. And if we fail? Keep trying. People appreciate the effort.
Are we listening to others with real intent?
As the listener it’s important to set aside your opinion and be open-minded to the speaker’s opinion.
Thinking back to the last conversation you had with a friend or family member, what made the experience good? Could it have gone better? Why? What could you have done to improve your listening skills?
Want other tips to improve your listening skills? Go to MindDoc.
Listening with an open heart and open ears can be difficult, but not an impossible feat. If you struggle with listening, try limiting your external distractions. Put your phone done or turn your gaze away from your computer screen. Turn down the outside noise and tune in to the one speaking to you. You’ll be glad you did.