We often think we are listening to someone, only to realize that we missed what they said. Either we were busy listening instead to the voices in our heads, or we were distracted by whatever was happening around us. When people ask how they can have better relationships with others, the first thing suggest is active listening.
What is the difference between listening and active listening? When you actively listen, you attend to what the other person is saying by silencing the voices in your head, paying attention to their verbal and nonverbal actions, and reflecting back what the other person is saying. The key to active listening is recognizing that there are blocks that prevent us from staying in the moment and paying attention to what the person is saying right in front of us. Got Willpower? How To Fight Fast Food Cravings
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Knowing and acknowledging that there are listening blocks is half the battle. Once you understand what these blocks are — when you find them happening to you as you are trying to listen to someone, you can then choose to turn them off, and re-focus your attention on what the person in front of you is saying, both verbally and non-verbally.
Did you know that we gather most of our information from nonverbal cues, not verbal? That's an interesting fact in light of how much time we spend on social media sites, and not interacting face-to-face with one another, and it's why I prefer Skype! That's why it is so hard sometimes when we are using social media sites/texts/emails to pick up on the conversational tone of someone's posts!
Here are the 12 most common listening blocks:
1. Comparing. When you compare it is hard to hear what the other person is saying, because you are busy seeing if you are smarter, more competent, more healthy emotionally, if you've suffered more, or if you're a bigger victim. An example of this is: "She said she ate that for breakfast, well I only ate an apple, and I'm so much thinner than her!"
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2. Mind Reading. It is difficult to pay attention to what other people are saying when you are instead busy trying to figure out what the other person is "really" thinking or feeling. If you do this, then you may assume things without fully listening to the facts. You may also make assumptions about how other people react to you, and act on the assumptions, rather than what the person is saying. For example, "She said she hates it when her son's friend comes over to play, but does she really hate the kid, or does she dislike not being able to walk around in her pajamas?"
3. Rehearsing. When you rehearse what you are going to say after the person finishes talking, then your attention is on preparing and developing what you are going to say, rather than what the other person is saying to you. For example: You attempt to look interested, but inside your head your wheels are turning about, "First I'm going to say this, then she'll say this, then I'm going to say that ... "