Often we focus on what we need to say and well, we miss what is actually being said. A good example of this is you are asked to introduce yourself at a gathering – as each person speaks – you try to focus on what they are saying but at the same time you find yourself thinking about what you are going to say.
As much as we would like to believe, there are many clever people out there who has researched this, we can’t completely focus on two things at once. Yes we will hear bits of what they are saying but if we want to really hear the other person and understand what they are communicating then we need to focus on them. Lets pause and think about what possible consequences there are if you don’t focus on what the person is saying?
1. Miss information. You won’t hear everything they say – you might hear bits but you will definitely miss parts of the conversation. Lets hope its not the parts that would of made an impact on you.
2. Misunderstanding. You might misunderstand what they are staying – which could be positive or negative for either parties. You might conclude they are someone to avoid and miss an opportunity of a worthwhile connection.
3. Repeat information. When its your turn to speak you might mention the same thing they said without even connecting it to them – making it obvious to everyone but yourself that you weren’t listening to them.
Now imagine the impact on conversations, say with your partner, boss, friends and so forth, if you take the same approach. Does it make you feel there might be something here that might be worth changing to improve the relationships?
Try it out with the next person you have a conversation with. Here are some ideas of what to do:
1. Ask them to explain something to you?
2. As they talk, set the intention to focus on them. Be aware of your mind and each time you find yourself thinking about something else, consciously draw yourself back to their words.
3. Notice how many times this happens in the conversation.
4. When they stop speaking, count to at least 3 before you say anything. You will be surprised how many people continue talking before you get to 3. The pause here is a wonderful place for them to gather their thoughts before they continue.
5. Continue to be aware of where your thoughts are – if you find yourself thinking about what to respond, gently let the thoughts go and go back to focusing on what they are saying.
6. Continue counting to at least 3 after they stop speaking before you do.
7. As you are counting to 3, only then think about what you want to say that will aid you to understand them.
May the understanding be with you 🙂