Be a Better Listener (Part 2)

Listening, but Not Hearing

Consider this: We retain only 25 percent of what we hear. Why?

The average person speaks at about 130 words per minute. Our thinking speed is about 500 words per minute. Consequently, we jump ahead of what is actually being said. This causes our minds to wander, and we think about other things (such as what we’re going to say next).

Four common listening errors occur in our daily communications:

  • We don’t clear our minds before entering into a conversation or listening to a person’s presentation. Many of us multitask, especially when we’re on the phone. Even in a face-to-face exchange, some of us multitask in our heads, solving problems and making lists while the other person gets to the point (which we have decided we already know).
  • We experience emotions that distract us from listening. It doesn’t take much of a trigger for our feelings to pop up. A look, a phrase, and we’re off and running with anxiety, fear or anger. Our ability to listen is impaired when we’re distracted by feelings.
  • When someone is speaking, we’re already thinking about our reply. We’re concentrating on our rebuttal or desire to share a similar experience, which means we cease listening to the speaker. As a result, we sometimes miss important information that will make our response inconsequential or inappropriate. We also miss opportunities to build and strengthen relationships.
  • We think about the subject from our own perspective, rather than trying to understand it from the speaker’s point of view. We may therefore misinterpret or misunderstand the information being presented.
Check back tomorrow for Part 3: Why Don’t We Listen?
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