Giving your attention without fear or favour and caring to understand what another is saying, before responding says a lot about the person who is listening…
Here is a true incident…
Viktor Frankl, one of the great psychiatrists of the twentieth century, survived the death camps of Nazi Germany. His little book, Man’s Search for Meaning , is one of those life-changing books that everyone should read.
Frankl once told the story of a woman who called him in the middle of the night to calmly inform him she was about to commit suicide. Frankl kept her on the phone and talked her through her depression, giving her reason after reason to carry on living. Finally she promised she would not take her life, and she kept her word.
When they later met, Frankl asked which reason had persuaded her to live?
“None of them”, she told him.
What then influenced her to go on living, he pressed?
Her answer was simple, it was Frankl’s WILLINGNESS TO LISTEN to HER in the MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT.
A world in which there was SOMEONE ready to listen to another’s pain seemed to her a world in which it was worthwhile to live.
Often, it is not the brilliant argument that makes the difference. Sometimes the small act of LISTENING is the GREATEST GIFT we can GIVE.
How can we choose to listen well?
What are the barriers to effective listening? How can we improve our listening abilities.
A few issues in listening well….or what is called Ineffective listening.
Distraction caused by the difference between speaking and thinking speeds in humans. So if the speaker speaks too slowly or too fast, the listeners may lose the plot.
At times the appearance or personality quirks or the environment changes can create distractions.
Distraction also causes the listener to show a lack of interest through body language like in posture of loss of eye contact.
Overcoming distractions requires keeness to improve and interest in personal development as much as a sense of commitment to the task at hand.
Here are a 5 tips for improving listening skills.
1. Restating . Pay full attention so as to be able to restate or paraphrase in your own words every once in a while, what it is that you have heard so as to make the speaker feel listened to.
2 Prompting . Use short and positive prompts by interjecting them in the pauses … to show interest like .. And then ? So ?or I know…
3.Validating .Express your empathy . Show that you understand what another is saying or going through. Acknowledge the issues faced by another or the feelings as they are speaking. It shows you are sincere in your concern.
4.Pausing . Allow for some gaps in the conversation.. it helps buy time to think for both the speaker and the listener . As it helps process the information. Silences are great tools to let go the unnecessary gibberish and loose-ended talks which may be counter- productive.
5.Shifting . Redirecting a speaker when needed by shifting the topic gradually changes the tone of the discussion which can at times get too aggressive or violent for comfort.
There are so many ways that develops the GIFT OF LISTENING .
Have also found that in practise, the art of listening well involves all of our senses.
After all the art of a great conversation lies in the ability to listen keenly and respond well than simply react.
Personally speaking I have often been a good listener… yet I must confess that there are a few close friends to whom I have spoken who are such great listeners that they put me at ease.
It is truly wonderful to be listened to as much as to listen. There is so much healing in the listening as much as in the sharing. I take this opportunity to thank those friends and readers who cared to give me a listening ear and time.🙏