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Ways to Replenish Active Listening with Empathetic Ears

Kiran Khannas is a nuclear engineer and an enthusiastic blogger.

Photo by kazimizan - Unsplash

Photo by kazimizan - Unsplash

Are you aware of listening exercise to enhance one of the most important, but most ignorant communication skill?

Are you ready to accept other’s point of view without interrupting the conversation and be a good listener?

Can you restrain yourself without asking a question and enjoy the power of listening?

I got some answers which would be beneficial if you practice keeping your listening skill optimal and enhance communication.

In this age of digital transformation, the raw material for active conversation has disappeared: which is listening.

We post pictures on Facebook or write a tweet in tweeter. We get a heart shape thumbs up, or thumbs down, and our emotions ride accordingly.

We post and they reply, no intimacy, and it’s not I talk, they listen, or they talk, I listen. It’s posted on tweeter and talking or listening is all going out of life.

The empathetic conversation which was the norm before the Internet era and we now reduce the use of listening in our day-to-day life. We lost human connection, remain digitally connected without empathy, but with judgement.

We are good in judgement, in fact, and take no time to comment on a Facebook post or sending a face emoticon without being emotionally connected. The worst part is we enjoy the entire change of drifting away from active listening or just sitting with an empathetic ear for someone.

Have we tried just sitting with the stranger and listen to them without judging them? Have we listened with compassion without judgement with an open heart? Is there something you want to say, tell me I will listen. Do this once, you will see the depth of closeness you are missing so far from digital media conversation.

Next time you are sitting in a cafe, instead of seeing your tweeter messages, try starting a genuine conversation with a stranger. I bet it will be an exceptional experience. Do this and give me feedback on how do you feel.

This deliberate listening will make you feel connected with a distinct feeling was not there in your digital connected avatar.

I am referring to listening here, which is not the same as listening to a podcast or any media; it is a genuine conversation where listening and involves reading.

Genuine listening is a rare commodity and a magnificent gift you are giving to the person you are listening to. Your most valuable asset: your attention.

Why meeting failed, and not results in a productive outcome? Why others

Am I giving a chance to others to speak in the meetings?

Why the result is not coming from your daily standup meeting?

Active listening is listening completely.

Rule of thumb ( we all know but still do not practice)

Be commit and avoid distraction. Keep your gadgets away.

Make listening to a priority

Do practice like any other skills

Asking a good question and then stop talking. It’s not about you.

Strive to be present in the moment

Respond with followup question.

A reason I can figure out, we often completely hijack the meeting, to prove I am the leader or share what I know or better than others. The ego of being superior or losing importance.

I need to set the tone and in the process not making the participants as the owner of the meeting. Meeting attendees, listen and go. Making meeting productive, especially this time, when managers want to keep engaging employee with daily morning and evening standup meeting, it is more important for the leader to take on listening as a driver.

This way, employees get into the mode of giving an opinion to ideation mode. After listening, all the employees, the leader should speak at last and making the most of the meeting.

Here are a few suggestions of how to do it right, based on the communication technique — active listening devised by Carl Rogers Farson in 1957.

Listen, do not talk

Resist talking about yourself. If someone is talking about having lost a family member, do not start talking about the time you lost a family member. If someone is talking about the trouble they are having at work, don’t tell them how much you hate your job.

It’s not the same. It’s never the same. All experiences are individual. And, more importantly, it’s not about you.

Don’t finish the other person's

Some people tend impatiently finishing the sentence or thought of the person they are talking to. Although very slow thinking and talking can irritate, don’t interrupt, even if you think it might show empathy.

Your body language says a lot

Look in the eye of the other person while he/she is talking and do all the talking within you -but don’t stare. Nod — but only if you want to agree with what they are saying or show that you have understood something important. Once the other person completes, put forth your points and always end with a question. You will respect and trust this way, as you had completely listened to all that the other person had to say.

Notice the little things

Listen out the details in what they are saying and pick up on these later. This makes it easier to ask questions (“You mentioned you spent a lot of time as a child at your grandmother’s -what kind of relationship did you have with her? And it lets the other person know you were listening.

Be a friend, not a judge

Resist the impulse of giving the other person advice — unless of course they specifically asked for it instead, take the conversation back to an exciting, important part of the story. Earlier, you said that take…’ The person away from the smooth surface to the deeper levels: “How was it for you, when you…? Or encourage the person to keep talking by asking: And what happened next?

The most romantic gift: to listen to another's anxieties for one hour, without judgment or “solution”, as an analyst might’ — Alain de Botton

How to ask good questions?

Marcel Proust questions have three key qualities:

  1. They are open questions that you cannot answer with yes or no.
  2. The question required no prior knowledge they are now right or wrong answers, only honest ones.
  3. They are questions that centre on your counterpart less than on you

We all admire people who give an excellent answer, but we admire those who ask a good question the people are remember most another one who listened.

As per Julian Treasure TED talk, we spend roughly 60% of our communication time listening, but we’re not very good at it. We keep just 25% of what we hear. Let’s define listening as making meaning from sound, it’s a mental process of extraction.

We’re losing our listening skills, and why did I say. First, we invented ways of recording, first writing, then audio recording, and now video recording as well the premium on accurate listening has disappeared.

5 Simple Exercises Tools to Improve your own Conscious Listening

1. Three minutes a day of silence is a wonderful exercise to reset your ears and to recalibrate so you can hear the quiet again if you can’t get absolute silence go for the quiet that’s fine

2. Listen in the coffee bar how many channels of sound can you hear, and how many individual channels or listening near the lake the chirping of birds. It’s a great exercise for improving the quality of your listening.

3. Relishing the unique sound and this is a beautiful exercise it’s about enjoying mundane sounds like of tumble dryer

4. Change your listening position (active, passive, reductive, expansive, critical, empathetic) and apply some filter to extract what you would like to listen.

5. Listening in communication with the intention

R. A. S. A, which is the Sanskrit word for juice. This acronym is a beautiful gest of listening and communication skills which stands.

R= Receive (Pay attention to the person)

A=Appreciate (Making little noises like Ok, hum, yeah)

S=Summarize (So, what I understood or so what you are saying …

A= Ask (Ask a question)

Leaders, managers, teachers, parents, children can use this.

Every human being needs to listen consciously, in order to live fully connected in space and in times with the physical world around us. Connected in understanding to each other. Not to mention spiritually connected, because every spiritual path has a listening element in it. I know listening and contemplation at its heart that’s why we need to teach this thing in our schools.

In Conclusion

We can learn to listen by following simple habits and enhancing our ability to give someone our listening ears.

© 2020 kiran khannas

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