The Art of Listening, Not Talking

As far as I’m concerned, the best communication is more listening than talking.

Have you ever had someone ask you a question and as you start answering them, they constantly interrupt and talk right over you until you give up and stop even trying?

I recently had a conversation with a workmate on that very subject. We talked about how rude and frustrating that is and you just want to tell them, “For the love of Pete – shut up already! I’ll get there if you let me! Stop constantly interrupting me and all your questions will be answered!”

Some people have obviously never heard the saying “We were given 2 ears and only 1 mouth for a reason.”

Psychology Today even says “… only about 10 percent of us listen effectively.”

That’s not good, my friends!

yada-yada-1432923_1920Not listening to someone is poor communication on many levels. Here’s how:

  • It’s disrespectful because it comes across as you not valuing what another is saying – you only care about what YOU are saying.
  • Constantly interrupting someone often leads to unnecessary tangents and loss of train of thought. It can turn into a huge waste of everyone’s time. A 20 minute meeting can easily take 45 minutes with too many unnecessary interruptions and useless chatter.
  • It is also just plain irritating! Why did you ask me a question in the first place if you’re just going to talk right over me?!
  • When you constantly talk over someone you come across as a “know-it-all”, and honestly, no one likes a know-it-all! Believe me…you have PLENTY to learn from others. Further, you may actually come across LESS intelligent than you really are because you are constantly running at the mouth.

Now, don’t get me wrong…if you truly don’t understand something or have an important question, by all means say so. The interruptions I’m referring to are constant comments, complaints or trying to make yourself sound smart. Also, I think some people just like hearing themselves talk!

Keep up with the practice of interrupting and not listening and pretty soon people will avoid talking with you altogether. If you constantly spill out everything that’s always on your mind, you lose credibility for times when you might REALLY have something important to add.

cup-2884058_1920There are huge benefits to listening. Here are a few:

  • Listening is learning. You get insights another person has, answers to questions and through the art of fine listening, the other person usually leaves thinking “What a great conversationalist you are!”, even though they did most of the talking. Most people get the greatest enjoyment from talking about themselves, so why not let them?

This is especially important in meeting someone for the first time at a party or work event as well as dating someone new. Listening helps build relationships and shows that you value what others have to say.

  • Active listening also shows the person that you care about them because you’re willing to hear what they have to say.
  • Silence can give you power. You come across smarter because people get the impression you are really thinking deeply about what they’re saying. Also, if you are known for being a good listener and not just a jabber-jaw, the times you DO say something is when the others will really be ready to listen to you.
  • You only have your experiences and knowledge – stop talking and you can gain another’s wisdom, perspective and knowledge. It could give you more of a well-rounded thought on something or benefit you in the long run.

Keep in mind, sometimes people have the need to be listened to, so they feel validated or understood. It is a gift from you if you listen as they get something off their chest. Or maybe they need to talk through something to figure it out.

sheep-2372148_1920You don’t always have to have the answer and tell it…sometimes it’s more valuable for a person to work through it themselves with you as a sounding-board.

So, every now and then, practice the art of active listening. Chances are you’ll get a lot more out of it than if you blast others with unimportant jabber.

Make Time to Change bookIf you enjoyed this post, you can find more like it in the “Make Time to Change” book, available on Amazon HERE.

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