Most of us think we are good listeners, but our over-confidence gets in the way of our success, as it prevents us from understanding the motivation of the other side.
There is nothing that puts a relationship in jeopardy faster than poor listening. Whether it’s our husband, wife, son, daughter, friend, client or vendor. It does not take people long to estimate your commitment to listening, especially when 93% of communication is wrapped up in physical syntax and delivery. Given this percentage, it is not easy to convince someone else that you are listening.
So, why do most of us under perform?
Because most fail to recognize that there are different levels to listening.
Listening just long enough to size up the situation
We are listening just long enough to figure out what the other side is saying before we formulate a reaction based on our personal view. We may not be able to articulate this response. but internally we are in a dialogue with ourselves about how what is being said does not line up with our own thinking.
Listening to argue our point
This is where we listen long enough to understand the incoming message until it hits a trigger. The trigger is something in the statement or phrase, with which we can disagree. We just wait for the other side to finish their thoughts, so we can tell them they are wrong. These disruptive replies undermine communication and relationships.
Listening for logic
We listen for the internal logic of what is being said. If this is our worldview, our conclusion or educated opinion, does it make sense to us?
Listening for emotion
We listen for any emotions and or identity issues that may be driving the discussion. These emotions or issues may or may not make sense to us, but at this level we recognize their significance to the other side as they talk about what is important to them.
Listening to hear their point of view
This is the sweet spot of listening. This is where we listen for what their argument, phrase or statement says about who they are. This is where we filter their emotion and logic through a prism of empathy. Getting beyond the cursory level of understanding to a deeper appreciation of their point of view. If we do not understand their perspective, we will never understand them. If we don’t understand them, we will never influence them.