Active listening is a topic that, personally, I find really interesting. It is the principal foundation upon which quality communication is created.
Maybe it is because, wrongly or not, I consider that communication without active listening is just a monologue.
My reflection to this topic is based, indeed, on two elements, how we communicate (active listening) and what we communicate (quality messages)
Active listening requires paying attention and honest curiosity about what the other person wants to say. Because of that it is important to be aware of their verbal and non-verbal communication, getting the most of their words and behaviour and, sometimes, leaving our own messages aside.
Likewise, we could use active listening to know whether or not our listener is interested in our conversation. In my opinion, when receiving signs of disinterest it is better to postpone the conversation, find out the reasons, or even to understand that that person is not the appropriate listener for our message.
In relation to quality, I think that it is important to be aware of what we say, I insist, both verbally and non-verbally, why we need to express that message and what we are giving to who is receiving. To me, this is important in order to improve quality in our conversations. Thinking of whether or not what you have to say is relevant for the receptor, thinking about why you need to express yourself. And finally consider that at times quantity and quality do not go together.
For all the above I suggest to look up this exercise:
Next time you are part of a conversation pay attention to what is said, both verbally and non-verbally. When the conversation finishes answer these questions:
- What were you receiving?
- What was the message about?
- What was that person transmitting to you?
- What were you transmitting?
Pay attention to your own mind:
- Were you really listening or you were thinking of what you were saying next?
- Were you interested in the story? Did you ask questions?
- Were you looking forward to finishing the conversation? In that case, what were you giving?
Look at the overall scene:
- Was it a real conversation or a bilateral monologue?
- How was the quality of the conversation?
- If this is important for you, how could you improve a conversation next time?
With a little bit of awareness we could really improve our communication and the conversation we are part of.
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