What a wonderful world that we live in! You want a cool new shirt? Sweet! Delivered by drone to your house! You need info? Thank you, Google! We live in an instant society. That is pretty great! However, one of the disadvantages (and there are many) is that we are so distracted we often don’t hear what the other person is saying!
Consequently, we then have misunderstandings, hurt feelings, broken relationships and all because we did not “hear” what was being said. I have spent years studying communication, conflict resolution, negotiations, and reconciliation. Let me share with you 5 ways to hear better! You ready? Okay, here we go…
1- Listen with your face –
“Listen with your face!” I heard a pastor say this one time. Actually, he was sharing how his wife told him to listen with his face. As he watched TV he would respond with his default setting “yeah, that’s true.” She got mad at him and told him to “Listen with your face.” I have found that to be a huge factor in communication. We simply need to pause what we are doing and look at the person with whom we are conversing and make eye contact. People feel like we are hearing them… and they are right! We are better hearers when we watch the person with whom we are speaking. We pick up tons of nonverbals (which is a huge factor in communication). We are also better able to connect. There is something about looking into someone’s eyes that make us better engaged!
2- Fully engage mentally –
So my wife says to me “Kenny, can you drop off your daughter at work and… (I’m not sure what else she said I stopped listening)”! I stopped listening because I was already thinking about what I was going to tell her. In the old days, we had a phrase that we used, we said, “you are not paying attention.” Now we just act like it is okay! Here’s what we don’t like to admit, when we are talking to someone and they start thinking about their “comeback comment” (wait for it… ) we can tell that they are NOT listening! So… we must pause and make sure that we are understanding what is being said before coming up with a response or jumping to conclusions.
3- Repeat back what you heard them say (sometimes) –
Sometimes it is important to pause and make sure we are understanding what is being said. When the other person is finished speaking… we can stop and repeat what we heard them say in our own words. Here is a word to the wise… if we do that too often we seem… um, well… dumb! It seems like we can’t understand simple English. So let’s use this tool sparingly and only as needed, if needed, when needed. Also, it should never start with “Are you serious…” or “Do you really think…” that is unless our goal is to make them mad (then by all means, that will be very effective).
4- Ask a kind question (maybe 2) –
Did you notice the word “kind”? That’s the key word. People consistently ask questions that are condescending,derogatory or just flat out mean-spirited! That’s not necessary! Ask a kind question. We may have to humble ourselves and ask it like this, “I’m not sure if I understand, can you help me understand what you mean?” Humbling our tone allows people to not feel attacked. It is a gracious way to more easily hear what is being said.
5- BONUS: Put your phone away
I know this should be obvious but IT’S NOT! I know that it is not obvious because I talk to people all the time who have their stupid phones out and they are looking at something while I am trying to speak to them (often after they ask me a question!!!). This is not just a pet peeve of mine but common courtesy. We can’t engage in two conversations at once. Okay that’s not true… we can’t engage in two conversations at once very well. So let’s put the phone away! People are more important and the good Lord put that person in front of us… we should show them the respect they deserve and put the phone away!
We were created in God’s image. It is good to be heard but we must practice good listening skills if we have any hope in having good healthy relationships!
Is there anything that I missed? Please feel free to post below some additional thoughts you have of easy ways to hear better! Thanks, you are wonderful!