Listening vs. Hearing

Listening is giving your focused attention and presence on the other – that is a rare gift.  It is an action that demonstrates you care.  We live in a busy world where most of us are stretched thin with many balls in the air.  We have high brain noise distracting us from our goals and depleting our energy.  We juggle between the endless list of things to do and time for the people we love and often the joy that is present in every moment is overshadowed with pressure of competing items on our plates.
There is a real distinction between hearing the words and listening for the message.  Listening involves a more sophisticated mental process than hearing; it demands energy and discipline.
Listening to someone whole heartedly allows other people to be heard, to be seen and to express themselves in a way that builds self-esteem.  Listening permits others to resolve their own problems which cultivate a “True” confidence in themselves.  Being heard reduces stress, eliminates conflict, and fosters respect and loyalty.  True listening is a basic human need that promotes a sense of belonging, collaboration and cooperation.
Did you know?
– 45% of people’s time is spent listening in business; however as you up the corporate ladder, the time spent listening increases to 55%.
– 70% of waking hours are spent in verbal communication
– Organizations operating at a low level of listening efficiency usually have high turnover
– Most people will not really listen to your point of view until they become convinced you have heard and appreciate theirs
– We listen at 125-250 words per minute, but think at 1000-3000 words per minute
Filters influencing how we listen:

         Values          Beliefs          Memories
         Expectations          Interests          Assumptions
         Attitude          Past Experience          Perceptions
         Emotional State          Physical Environment          Prejudices

Strategies to expand your presence and listening skills:
Be Present
Listen with purpose
Suspend all other activities from mind
Paraphrase: “Here’s what I heard…” or “What I got from what you said is….” or “What I understand you are saying is…”
Listen to understand — not to respond
Make eye contact
Ask questions
The “Voice Mirror” was introduced by Sue Walden of Improv Works at a CAPC (Calgary Association of Professional Coaches) meeting I attended:  It is a transition tool to shut your brain off and bring yourself to being fully present with someone.  It can be used when you find yourself drifting.  The “Voice Mirror” technique: Silently in your head repeat the words the person is saying as quickly as they are saying them”.  I’ve played with the technique and did experience success in being more present with people.
Have fun taking on your wondering mind and enjoy the rich conversations available to you from your listening in a new way!

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