Beyond Your Shell

The Most Critical Social Skill

January 12, 2017, by Adam Weigand, category Self

People listeningHave you ever finished talking with someone and said to yourself “Wow, he really get me.” Or “She was really easy to talk to.”

 

Conversely, have you ever heard “You never listen to me”?  Maybe that person is actually saying “I don’t feel like you understand how I feel.”

 

What is different about these two situations?  What is it about the first scenario that leaves you feeling understood?

 

They listen.

 

Listening can help you become likable, charismatic and it can improve both personal and professional relationships.  When you listen, you become connected with the other person.  They can feel that you understand what they are thinking.

 

Listening makes us feel valued.  People are emotional creatures and because of that,  we want to be heard and understood. We are drawn to people who understand us.

 

…still, most of us only listen enough to respond.  

I’m guilty of it.  We focus so much on being heard and noticed.  Planning out what to say while the other person is talking.  Who wants to be around someone who doesn’t listen and show they understand?

 

“First seek to understand, then to be understood.” – Stephen Covey

I’ve been there, but through many personal struggles and reading, I’ve realize how important listening can be.  I’m not only talking about hearing the words, but deep listening.

 

Listening is more than just hearing the words.

Improvisers know listening is critical when performing. Since everything is created in the moment, listening is the only way to create a scene.  We have to hear the spoken words of the other actors, while at the same time listen for emotion.  As improvisers we also listen for the subtext to extract as much information as possible.

 

We listen and let their words affect us.

 

Listen with more than your ears.  Listen with your heart.  Put yourself in their shoes.  Feel how they feel.  Let go of waiting to respond.

 

“Listening is the willingness to change your mind” – Alan Alda

 

I urge you to ask yourself “what is this person saying through their emotions” and “how are they feeling right now?” the next time you’re trying to make a connection with someone.

 

How do you listen better?

 

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