Are You Really Listening?


Have you ever been accused of not listening?

Have you ever found yourself engaged in a successful conversation and suddenly baffled when the speaker responds with one of the following phrases?

  • Are you listening to me?
  • Did you even hear what I just said?
  • You never listen to me!
  • You just don't understand!

Many of us are no strangers to these phrases, even when we consistently work on improving our communication skills. Effective communication is highlighted as a crucial aspect in any successful partnership. What we fail to recognize is the role listening plays in relationships, as opposed to speaking.

By identifying your listening style you will be able to understand and diminish misunderstandings, unnecessary arguments and emotional turmoil. You will also become more conscious and mindful within conversations, which will improve communication and relationship satisfaction. Being heard and feeling an emotional connection within a conversation is a profound experience, and easily attainable if you just stop and listen.

There are 3 types of listening styles which take place within a conversation: subjective, non-subjective, and intuitive. Distinguishing your primary auditory mode will lead to effortless and effective communication.

  1. Subjective listening is the most commonly used skill in our daily conversations. A subjective listener is not fully engaged in what their partner has to say. Instead they are more wrapped up in their own agenda and experiences. In most cases this type of listening skill serves the needs of the listener more than the speaker, leaving the partner unfulfilled and unheard. This form of communication is a transfer of words with no substance. The listener is constantly modifying the information heard based on individual bias and past experiences.
  2. Non-subjective listening is when you are focused on what your partner has to say and are fully engaged. The information conveyed is not distorted with personal feelings or interpretations; however, your responses do not address the heart of the situation. Responses are highly superficial, resulting in the avoidance of a deeper connection and understanding. 
  3. Intuitive listening connects both partners on a deeper level utilizing the various senses. This listening skill allows you to tap into your partner's energy level, depth of emotion and the unspoken feelings. Being able to listen to your partner's needs on an intuitive level results in a more profound connectedness. Your response not only addresses the verbal cues but connotes an in-depth level of care and concern.

Intuitive listening takes practice. Here are some quick tips to help you get started:

  • Provide your undivided attention, which means putting away all electronics.
  • Do not interrupt the speaker.
  • Rephrase the core of their message to ensure you correctly understand the emotions expressed.
  • Always validate the speaker's emotions.
  • When responding, utilize "I" statements.

Next time you engage in conversation, whether it is big or small, stop and pay attention to your instinctual behavior when it comes to formulating a response. Before uttering a response stop and ask yourself "Are you really listening?"