Do you really listen when others are talking?
Have you ever played word association? You all take it in turns to say a word that relates to the word the person before you said?
Blue – sky – thinking – dreaming – nightmare … etc.
Or Hat – coat – scarf – snow … and on and on.
That’s how a great conversation goes. You can remember you started to talk about the traffic lights at the end of the road and before you knew it you’d moved to the cost of swimming caps via breeding oysters.
There are half finished stories and you never did find out what happened to Jo who you used to work with.
How does that happen?
It’s because you aren’t really listening to each other … you are just waiting for your turn to speak. You hear something about oysters. That makes you think of the sea which you say something about; which makes the other person think about swimming which they say something about and before you know it you’re onto the topic of the cost of swimming hats!
That’s great if you are chatting about nothing in particular over a coffee or glass of wine with friends.
But, it’s not OK if you are in a meeting or someone is trying to tell you something they feel is important. Be they a colleague, boss, staff member, friend, partner or child; taking the time to listen can change your relationship. And I mean really listening, not thinking about what you are going to say next, but being in the moment and truly hearing what they say.
Next time you are having a chat, catch yourself moving the conversation on or waiting to jump in with what you want to say next and just check …
…have you really been listening?