Listen Better At Home at school And At Work

We are losing our ability to listen. Internet information and videos capture everything so we don’t have to remember anything. We don’t have to hear when we can just hit ‘replay.’ Social media allows us to broadcast instead of communicate. But when we need to listen to the professor, or when we need to listen to our partner, or when someone needs our help, we need listening skills.

Listening At Home 1

Couple in the evening looking at their laptops

There is a primal need to be heard by our other.  Without fulfillment of this requirement, we lose the connection and feel unloved. This is especially true for a woman because making a connection with their partner triggers oxytocin to regenerate.  So men, take note and take care of this responsibility before you go off into your cave.

  1. Be responsive. When couples respond to each other, their relationship lasts a lot longer. When being spoken to, you need to send signals that you are actively listening. Nod your head, or say things like, “Oh, I get it”, “Right…” to let them know you are engaged in what they are saying. This simple act sets them at ease that they are being heard. Once they feel heard, they will talk less because the need to be heard requirement is fulfilled. Then it will be your turn to talk.
  1. Stop everything you are doing when your partner is speaking. It’s like when you are driving and get a call on your cell phone. It’s better to pull off the road and engage the caller. The reason is that the split attention will make you forget what was said on the call. The same thing is true with your partner. If you split your attention between what you are doing and what is being said, you are not paying attention to your partner. Your partner is not going to feel heard and will feel a disconnection between the two of you. Later on, that disruption may turn into a fight.
    1. If what you are doing is super important, let your partner know you can’t give them undivided attention at the moment, and ask for a time to continue a discussion when you are free.
    2. Then when you do have time, give them 100% of your attention and they’ll love you for it.
  1. Listen without an agenda. If we are thinking about our response when they are talking, we are not listening. Just listen without conjuring a plot. Let them talk.

 

  1. Listen to learn. Listen to find out something about your partner. What are they feeling? What are they thinking? What do they believe? What are they afraid of? What happened in their day? Be thrilled about learning something about your partner.

If your partner says something you don’t understand, ask your partner to help you understand.

Listening At School 2

A lecturer at university classroom

Students listen to the lecturer some but not all of the time. By practicing listening skills in the classroom, students get better grades, and do better in life, and on the job.

Understanding the problems in listening is as important as understanding solutions. If you can catch yourself in the act, then you can do something about it before you go off to la-la land.

Set a goal to listen 100% or the time and you will at least increase your retention of what was said.

Here is a breakdown.

Problems

  1. Pseudo Listening
    1. Use of body language that looks like you are listening but you are not listening.
    2. What did they just say? Can you recall or you just want to appear interested?
  2. Selective Listening
    1. Distractions or lack of focus block listening. Being nosey like looking at other people, what they are wearing today, prevents us from being attentive.
  3. Negative listening
    1. Getting a bad attitude about something the speaker says or does that causes us to turn off and then turns into an ongoing distraction.

Solutions

  1. Awareness
    1. Be aware of your listening problem as it is happening. Stop the behavior in its tracks.
  2. Be physically and Mentally prepared to listen
    1. Get enough sleep
    2. Eat because hunger dominates thoughts
    3. Be aware of your worries and leave them outside the classroom. Let the classroom be your sanctuary.
  3. Set a Goal!
    1. 100% listening goal
    2. It’s up to you, not the presenter. Don’t judge the presenter. They are not here for entertainment.
  4. Sit in front and center
    1. Hiding in the back because you don’t want to get picked on does not work
    2. In the back, you could get distracted looking at others in front
    3. In the front, you can hear, see, and focus better
  5. Practice!
    1. Have someone read sentences, then try to recall by writing down what was said. Start with smaller sentences then bigger and bigger ones.
    2. Example sentences. You must recall them exactly to get credit. Notice the progressive difficulty:
  • Everyone at the game wore a red shirt
  • The power went out due to a big storm last Monday morning
  • He usually eats two soft tacos and a burrito whenever he goes to taco bell
  • The four young children spent the whole afternoon playing on the swings and slides at the local park
  • After running four miles on the beach the young women walked another mile to cool down then went home
  1. Pretend to be fascinated
    1. Lean forward. Why? Doing the opposite, leaning back, signals the brain to be sleepy instead of attentive.
    2. Get eye contact. Why? Focusing on the speaker signals the brain to focus and not be distracted by surroundings
    3. Look as if this is the greatest thing that ever happened. Why? The brain likes positive feedback.

Listening At Work

Responding to a question

When approached by someone that needs help, we might retrieve an answer from our database and serve it up, like we were on a quiz show and beating the buzzer. In school, we are given a certain amount of time to take the test, so we rush through to the end, answering questions quickly. Based on our experience of dealing with quizzes, it stands to reason that blurting out an answer is the right behavior.

Then there are some with attention deficit. “Please, get to the point or else I may lose the thread completely.” Then some fleeting thought gets in the way. You get a blank stare- “I’m sorry, what was that?”

There are skills to help us listen in this situation.

When helping someone with a question, sometimes it’s not clear what they need. It’s oftentimes about where they are at the moment without the benefit of knowing what led up to their question. This means you can’t make assumptions. Like an investigator, you have to do some fact-finding. To be a better listener to people in need, it’s important to get on the right page with them.

In either case, listening is key. Try this:

  1. Engage the person. A simple “hello” will suffice.
  2. Before they start talking about their situation, stop thinking. Fade to black. Clear your mind of everything. Say to yourself “STOP THINKING.” Repeat it if you have to. Resist the urge to blurt out an answer.
  3. Once they start in with their question, start visualizing. Try to see what they are saying.
  4. If you cannot visualize, let them know you are having some difficulty, and tell them what your mind’s eye sees. Ask them to help you. Perhaps something is missing from the picture. Or, perhaps they are not painting a very good picture. In any case, you need to fill in the blanks to get a complete picture and avoid assumptions.
  5. Verify you have the picture. Explain what you got out of it and repaint the picture to find out if you are on the same page.
  6. Once you have the picture and get the nod that you understand what they need, then go about helping them.
  7. Offer the solution. If no solution comes to mind, offer to find someone who can help. At least you can fill in the blanks for them. Alternatively, offer a Plan ‘B’ solution that might suffice. Sometimes an alternative is good enough.

References

  1. Bruce Muzik, Relationship Advice: 4 Listening Skills For Relationships – YouTube
  2. How To Improve your LISTENING SKILLS | LBCC – Study Skills – YouTube

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