We have a duty to the people we love to listen. Sounds logical, sounds easy and yet it is anything but. We spend so much time cultivating relationships and too little time actually nourishing them. Most relationships fail when one or both parties no longer give it any effort or decide that something new is better than working on what already exists.
We all think we listen, actually few of us really do. So how do you know when you are not listening? You know you are not listening when you are waiting for your turn to talk. You know you are not listening when you have already thought of your response before they have finished talking. You know you are not listening when you ask for the short version, only give them five minutes, or ask for them to give you the highlights without the details. You know you are not listening if your phone or a gaming device is in your hand or your email is open. And the other person knows you are not listening when they have to repeat themselves, even worse when it happens more than once.
We spend so much time watching videos, movies, tv or even experiencing things online that we think we know how to listen, when we really don’t. Great listeners are the ones who think more about the other person than being the center of the conversation. Great listeners are the people we go to when we have problems and REALLY need someone to understand how we feel. And great listeners are the ones who spend time making sure we know they have heard us and want to be sure we are made to feel important.
Your task today is to truly listen, be it in a meeting or a conversation, a phone call or to a news story. Listen, work to understand and make sure you fully comprehend the message that is being delivered. Try it, you will be amazed at the difference AND reminded of how often we just let things slide. Listening is hard work, and yet all of life is worth it. The effort to truly listen pays off no matter what!