Have you ever received feedback yourself or commented on another person’s listening “skills”:
“all she does is talk about herself”
“every time I bring something up he tries to problem solve or fix me...I just want him to listen”
“she is always on her phone”
“he’s so fidgety, can’t sit still or is always looking around when I trying to talk to him”
I used to be that guy. Seemingly, always preoccupied thinking about the next thing, distracted by something on my phone or in the surrounding environment. If I was more focused in conversation, I repeatedly got feedback from my buddies that I was “talking over them” and that my “trying to be ‘helpful’ and fix her” was not what she wanted. One female friend actually grabbed my face and helped pivot my wandering attention into better focus as I was listening to her—she did so lovingly and it really made an impact. After enough feedback around listening, I started observing great listeners to discover their secrets in how they were so available and present in conversation.
Listening is a crucial part of our ability to communicate and thrive in relationships and at work. It affects how well we understand, acknowledge and appreciate others as we create, maintain and deepen relationships as well as the way we engage, correspond, sell, inspire, instruct and manage in the workplace. Better listening enhances communication, understanding and appreciation of others. The masterful listeners listen from a depth of presence and openness that allows speakers to feel heard, understood, appreciated, seen for who they are & freer to express a greater range of themselves.
6 LISTENING BARRIERS
Distracted: internally by our own mental-emotion noise or externally by digital stimulation or the environment
Self-absorption: anxiously waiting for my turn to talk, thinking of what I want to say, interrupting, or talking over
Multi-tasking: partial listening while splitting attention on 2 or more things
Emotionally Triggered: emotions create static, prioritize attention on our inner experience, so we’re unavailable to hear others
Advice or Fixing: giving requested advice or trying to problem solve when the person simply wants you to listen
Getting lost in their world: losing awareness of your self or over-listening to others to avoid your own emotions or sharing your own experience
Just because we are physically in a conversation or interpersonal engagement doesn’t mean we are "present", listening and actually hearing the other person. As Wesley Snipes clarified in White Man Can’t Jump:
“Look man, you can listen to Jimi (Hendrix) but you can't hear him. There's a difference man. Just because you're listening to him doesn't mean you're hearing him.”