Have you ever tried speaking to someone who seemed too busy to really listen? Someone who doesn’t’ seem to really care? Maybe you encountered people who as soon as you mention you had a difficult day interrupts you and tells you how their day has been worse? They may have been looking at the phone, distracted by their surroundings or lost in their own thoughts and only mustered up a darting glance and a passing comment. A darting glance that was just enough to keep you talking and continuing to make your point. Maybe they said the “uh-huh’s,” “really,” and ” I can’t believe that” at just the right time during the conversation but in actuality their attention was anywhere, but paying attention to what you were really saying.
When it’s all over, you may not want to admit to yourself, but you don’t really feel heard. As a mater of fact you may feel insulted, alone and your day just got even worse! Well, not only do many people not realize that when “listening” to someone else they may not be listening at all. The typical listener slips into thinking about what he/she wants to say in response to what is being said to them. In contrast, a good listener will focus his/her attention onto what you are trying to say, your feelings, your perception and your overall message. Being that there seems to be few times that people will give of themselves and be all about the other person is rare. Now compound that with many people being distracted, busy and overwhelmed with the demands of life and work and you’re sure to get an “Uh-huh”, or “I can’t believe that!” from time to time.
What inspired me to write this article was being told by too many people that they just shared something so personal with me by saying, “I’ve never told anyone that before” and “It’s so easy to talk to you.” It’s become clear to me that so many people are unfamiliar with feeling heard. By feeling heard I mean, understood and feeling valued. I also saw how happy people became when they felt heard. It would appear that the general consensus is that people have someone to talk to, but not on a very real, true and personal level. Think about it. Can you relate?
Four easy tips for the listener to make the speaker feel heard and important:
1-Establish eye contact.
2-Ask a few questions.
3-Avoid shifting the conversation onto yourself.
4-Be aware if you’re thinking of your own feelings instead of the person speaking.
If you’ve been following me and know that my focus is primarily on children, families and the individuals who work with children, you may ask what does this have to do with children? Look at it from this perspective, we become accustomed to the way our peers communicate with us (which is often lacking the 4-5 key elements ) we may not expect our children to look at us when we speak. You may not even notice that you and your child aren’t looking at each other when you speak to each other.
Without the initial eye-contact what you are saying will only penetrate to the surface. It’s likely that your message will not be internalized or considered for future decision making options. Another consideration is without the 4-5 key elements, we are not teaching and modeling to our children what they deserve to receive when trying to have a conversation too. Obviously our children will grow into adults. They learn best from the adults they love and are around the most. The children I work with would tell you, “Look-to-Listen-to-Learn.” It helps to avoid the darting eyes of distraction!
So, in an effort to make people feel heard, I harnessed my inspiration, gathered my thoughts based on knowledge and experience for you. You know the old saying, “It takes two?” So, let’s take a look at what you the speaker can do to make sure that you don’t have darting eyes and are listening.
Five easy tips for the speaker to engage the listener:
1-Look at who you are speaking with.
2-As you are telling your story, ask engaging questions.
3-Be aware if you’re not giving the other person a chance to respond.
4-Consider any input with a flare of gratitude (time is valuable).
5-Know when it is not a good time for the other person and ask if you can talk to him/her later.
I hope this helps you become a little more aware and above all important and valued!
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