The Art of Listening

As a culture, we have forgotten how to listen well. With all the noise, interruptions, and activity the art of listening is being lost. To lead well we must listen well. Listening creates connection and understanding which is necessary to lead others.

This post is being written from personal experience. I have found myself guilty of poor listening more often then I’d like to admit. See if you can relate to one of the following situations that have happened to me:

  • My coworker brings up an important topic that we need to discuss. I engage with them but frequently look down at my phone and the most recent alerts.
  • My child comes up excited to tell me something. I acknowledge her and listen to what she’s saying while staying focused on the work I’m doing on my computer.
  • I’m in a meeting taking notes and miss the facial expression and exchange that happens between two members of my team.
  • I’m having a meal with others while distracted by the TV or activity around me.

In all of these situations, I’m listening poorly. While I’d love to say these are all examples that I’ve observed in others, I must admit that I’m the guilty one. So what am I doing to develop the art of listening in my own life?

  1. Practice Silence – Each day I attempt to spend at least 3-5 minutes silent. As a Christian, I use this time to reflect and pray. I’ve found that removing the noise for a short period helps me to better tune into the sounds and voices throughout the day.
  2. Look at What I’m Listening To – Your ears follow your eyes. You cannot listen to someone well while looking at something else. Make eye contact. Focus on their gestures and facial expressions. You’ll not only be less distracted but ‘hear’ things that you would have missed just listening to their voice.
  3. Stop Taking Notes In Meetings – There are times where something needs to be written down. However, if you’re the type that is always taking notes you miss much of the interaction in the room. You need to see people’s facial expressions, body language, posture, and eyes. This also communicates respect to those around you.
  4. Put Away The Devices! – I love technology. I love gadgets. I love all they enable us to do. But they need to be put away when you’re in conversation or a meeting. Close the laptop screen. Put your phone in your pocket (on silent.) Take the watch off your arm (or turn off its alerts.) We’ve got to get better at controlling the technology in our life instead of letting the technology control us!

Will you join me in rediscovering the art of listening?

Question: What else would you add to this list? What other ways can we practice listening well? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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