The Lost Art of Communication

Do you feel unheard? Do you get the feeling that people aren’t listening to what you have to say? Or, when in conversation, have you ever found your mind wandering off when someone is speaking to you?

Hearing and listening are vastly different from one another in as much as hearing is passive and requires little effort, whereas listening is a deliberate action that demands our focus and attention… let’s think on this point for a moment…

Listening requires of the listener his/her attention to what the other person is saying with the intention of understanding him or her. Let’s face it, all humans want to be understood and all humans would like someone to really listen to what they are trying to communicate. ( Humans like to feel they are playing a real role in this life and need a listening ear from time to time.)

To become a more effective listener is to become aware of the barriers that can get in the way.

I invite you to read the points below and then to take a few moments to reflect on your own listening skills. Can you recognize any of these blocks to active listening throughout your own communications?

~ External factors such as noise, physical discomfort, interruption, mobile phones etc. create poor listeners. Sadly, many of us can’t seem to get actively involved in conversation without regularly glancing at our mobile phones during conversation. The message this sends to the other person in the conversation is that the listener is bored and restless and that what’s popped up on the listener’s phone is far more important than the conversation, which is also fellowship, if you think about it. If we allow ourselves to be distracted by external factors such as social media in any form, we are likely to miss important points of information valuable snippets that might be useful at some future point. It can also be harmful to the relationship between the two people in conversation.

~“Response Rehearsal”. This is a term I have given to the ’listener’ who rehearses what to say next, throughout the other person’s input to the conversation. When our whole attention is on preparing what we are about to say next, this essentially translates to the fact that we have switched off from listening to the other person

~ Fact Finding: This is when the listener searches for the facts and details of what the other is saying, instead of listening to the overall message he or she is trying to communicate. ‘Fact Finders’ often focus on what they believe is not right in the other’s conversation. They are so focused on the imperfections in what the other person is contributing to the conversation or discussion that they completely miss what’s important

~ Judgementalism : This is when we have stopped listening to what the other person is saying because we have already judged, made assumptions and labelled or stereo typed the other person

~ Solving Problems: Problem solvers are so busy searching for ‘the right’ advice they can offer that they don’t hear more than a few sentences. When we’re so keen to jump in and solve the problem, which might sincerely be out of a desire to help, in a benevolent way, we miss what the real message is and what is most important in what the other has shared or contributed to the conversation. When we do this, we might offer our ‘solutions’, not taking into account the sensitivity of the other person, his or her feelings and as a result, he/she feels alone and even silly, because that person hasn’t really been ‘heard’. The listener hasn’t really been with the other throughout the conversation. This could have an adverse effect on the person who might sincerely be looking for a sounding board – not necessarily someone who has a solution to offer but just someone who is willing to really listen and to acknowledge him or her. The poor listener loses a lot too where a good listener is always enriched by conversation, whatever it is. We all have something of value to offer in conversation.

~ Imposing Cognitive Bias (Personal view or opinion): We do this when we consider our own point of view to be the only ‘correct’ one and therefore not being open to the view of others. This often takes the form of focusing on one’s own opinions, readily offering (unsolicited) advice as opposed to listening to the core message the other person is trying to express and getting into a real live discussion with one another. Constructive participation 😊

In addition to the above communication “gremlins”, it’s quite alarming, that considering we’ve only had the facility of modern technology as we know it today for a decade and a bit, how much communication has changed since the advent of smart phones, the introduction of the invaluable whatsapp, social media, the vast number of games not only children, but also some adults play, etcetera… Humans have become, in the opinion of some, horribly addicted, to the point of it becoming harmful to both body and mind. It often seems that it could be an escape mechanism to avoid personal, face to face contact and conversation. Hence, people are beginning to forget how to speak to one another, how to communicate in words and language with meaning, with interest and expression but mostly, we are forgetting how to listen ☹…

To be fair to modern technology, which without, we would all feel a tad lost, could we be losing our natural, in-bred ability to communicate, to really listen to one another because of an over-dose of mod. Tech?

If you would like to be really listened to, or need to improve your own listening skills, life coaching can help you to overcome the barriers to effective communication.

Article written by Dave Liddle

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