My 6 year grandson was tugging at his dad’s sleeve “Daddy”, Daddy, Daddy” and Daddy was paying no attention as he scrolled through his messages. Finally a frustrated “Daddy, just because I am little, doesn’t mean you don’t have to listen to me”.
And he’s right. Everyone, no matter how young or junior in status has ideas that are worth listening to. And that comment has had me thinking about how we have forgotten how to listen effectively- both at home, and at the office. We need to listen so that the other person truly feels they are being heard and once we do that, we will be amazed by what we hear. We think we listen, but we don’t. Really listening means getting the other person and sometimes that may even include what they are not saying.
Here’s how we don’t listen:
- We multi- task, checking our messages.
- We finish the other person’s sentences.
- We interrupt.
- We look around.
- We check the time on our watches or phones.
- We hurry to fill in any pauses.
- We share our stories before the other has finished telling theirs.
- We rush to contribute our ideas before we are asked for them.
So, next time someone wants to speak to you, whoever it is, close your laptop, silence and put down your phone, keep your eyes glued to the person you are talking to, look interested, be curious and ask questions. Do this and you’ll find that what Nancy Kline says in her book ‘Time to Think, Listening to Ignite the Human Mind’ is so true- “The quality of your attention determines the quality of other people’s thinking”.