I had a conversation today with a gentleman where he was telling me about his challenges at work. Multiple times during the conversation I made sure I understood by paraphrasing and rewording what he had just told me. When we finishing talking he thanked me for taking the time to hear him out. He said he knew I was listening and understood his challenge, and appreciated my input.
I spoke to another person who was having trouble getting over a bad break up. They were working to create a new life for themselves, and we ended up talking for nearly an hour about how they were thinking and feeling, and shifting their perspective to a more positive subject. They were glad to have someone who knew them that would listen.
Earlier this week I ran into a friend and asked her how she was doing. After a few pleasantries I could tell something was wrong. I grabbed her hand and asked what was really going on, and she told me she had just been diagnosed with Lupus. She had started seeing her health differently and was working to get her immune system back in order. She shed a few tears and simply needed some human touch and a listening ear to remind her that she wasn’t alone.
Research shows that when we think about communication, the mental picture in our mind shows us talking. The challenge most businesses, relationships and human interactions have is that both sides ‘think’ they are listening when in reality they are simply waiting of their turn to speak. They hear to confirm their own opinion, wait for their turn to talk because they already know what they want to say, or they hear to verify facts they already have in their own mind and the rest of what is said gets left behind. Truly amazing communicators are solid, consistent listeners. They spend more time and effort working to truly understand than worrying about getting their own opinion, story, or idea across.
When was the last time you had a good conversation that was not all about you? Where you listened more than you talked, and the other person had no doubt you heard and understood every word they said? Where you showed how much you cared by giving of your time and energy to focus on the other person? The art of the REAL conversation is getting lost in this digital and electronic device focused world. We think text messages and emails, snap chats and instant selfies can replace the interpersonal side of relationships. Don’t buy that lie. The people you love and care about need you not something electronic or posted. They need your energy and love to help them navigate this tumultuous world. Take time today to have a REAL conversation with someone who needs it, you never know when you will need the favor and energy returned to help you keep things moving forward.