The most important part of communicating is listening. It’s been said that that’s why we have only one mouth but have two ears. You can’t assume that you understanding someone simply because you know them well or you have much in common. Not only does a person have to listen to the actual words spoken, but there’s so much more that communicates feelings and thoughts.
- Listen for the meaning. Words often don’t reflect what the person really means. Become a better listener by asking yourself, “Why is he or she telling me this?” Put yourself in his or her shoes and try to discover the meaning behind the words or behavior.
- Notice why the speaker chose you. When people communicate they unconsciously and many times consciously identify a certain person to talk with. Perhaps you have purposefully been chosen because the speaker needs a certain kind of feedback that they hope you will give.
- Accept the meaningfulness of all communication no matter how small. Do you tend to dismiss “small talk” as unimportant? There is nothing small about. It is a quick way to build rapport and trust between people. It’s how we stay connected. Often in our busy lives we skip the small talk and get on with the agenda and, as a result, relationships suffer.
An important part of listening is truly caring about the other individual. If you are genuine, the other individual feels appreciated and tries that much harder to send you clear signals that require less translating.