Are you a good listener?
Friend 1: “I was taking little Oscar for a walk around the neighbourhood as part of my usual exercise routine at 5.30am this morning. Before I realised I had once again forgotten to bring a poo bag with me I stopped to let him do his business on the path outside one of our neighbour’s houses just as she walked out of her front door and…”
Friend 2: “I had my nails done yesterday (holds out hands), what do you think?”
Admit it, we’ve all been there, we’ve all had friends whose eyes glaze over the minute you open your low-carb kale-salad eating mouth to say anything. You’re so excited about something that you just have to tell them but as soon as your mouth starts spilling your coma inducing utterances you see their eyes roll to the back of their head and their mind go to a far off place where they’re probably sipping margaritas on some beach while being fanned by Ryan Gosling lookalikes.
This could mean one of three things:
- You’re a boring wordsmith
- They’re a crap listener
- They are rude imbeciles that should be finding another friend to bestow their non-listening talents upon. Charles Manson’s love child, maybe.
Or it could mean all three for which I have no advice except GET HELP.
In my next post, I am going to address the issue of your coma-inducing utterances, come back for that.
For now, I am going to help friend number two become a better listener. Why? I like her she has nice nails.
5 things that will help you become a better listener:
1. Don’t interrupt
Your manicure may be the most amazing looking thing since Pamela Anderson took her run down the beach in Baywatch but you need to focus on what your friend is saying.
2. Look at the person you are speaking to
I don’t mean just in their general direction with a strabismic stare. Make a connection, meet their eyes.
3. Put down what you are doing
Unless you are making the coffee or pouring the wine then for god’s sake don’t stop.
4. Listen between the lines
Not where you put your feet or you’ll marry a rat kind of lines. Hear the subtitles that are being expressed either side of what is being said. Their voice might rise in level or there could be a small sigh or a change in tempo. These are all pieces to a puzzle which can tell you what the speaker is feeling. The more you listen the more in tune to these subtleties you will become. A handy fact for mothers trying to catch their daughter out when all the chocolate coated coffee beans have gone missing, just saying.
5. Watch the body language
Are they constantly touching their face, sitting slouched or fiddling? This could show a lack of confidence or that they don’t truly believe what they are saying. Or they could have a bad back that is giving them so much pain they twitch with every movement. What are the odds?
Practice makes perfect. The more you really try to listen the more you will truly understand what someone is saying.
Really hearing what someone has to say could be of great advantage during negotiations, when pitching an idea or for just knowing when your friend needs some support.
My! What big ears you have. All the better to hear you with my dear!
What listening techniques do you employ to better hear someone with?