The art of Active Listening

Think about how many times you use the pronouns “I” and “me” in your every day life. How many times you have asked your friends and your colleagues to look you in the eyes.  How many times you find yourself demanding from others to listen to you when you talk, but you do not do the same when they talk.

Taking all the above into consideration, what does it mean to you to be a good listener, a good friend or a co-worker, even a good leader? In other words, is listening a synonym of hearing? To clarify, eye contact or nodding your head are not the only mechanisms of a good enough listener. So what does active listening mean?

Active listening benefits you with practical aspects, apart from personal development. Being a good listener will prevent you from misunderstandings, while helping you to build stronger relationships. And this is because it gives you a better understanding of the discussed matter.  It enables you to keep away from mistakes in similar situations in the future. Imagine a leader who does not listen to his/her team; a failure sooner or later is inevitable.

Being a good listener also means listening with an open mind. Be silent; do not try to respond immediately. You should be able to listen and show empathy and respect to the person that speaks. Even if it seems strange, accepting yourself helps you become a better listener. There are times that you will feel uncomfortable, and this phase is important in order to reach an outcome. Engage in the conversation, but do not interrupt the others, it is rude, to say the least.

Being a good listener addresses an interaction, a mutual exchange; it is the first step for a change.  People who do not change sometimes lose track. Do not overestimate your attitude and do not pretend that you know it all. Instead try to limit the distractions. In the end, listening is to receive and interpret messages in the most accurate way. Only then an effective communication will take place. As Richard Branson suggests “listen more than you talk”.

Being a good listener makes you a better person. It makes your life better and more colorful. It makes you smarter. So what do you think?  Epictetus, a Greek philosopher once said “We have two ears and one mouth so we can listen twice as much as we speak.”

Set your personal goal and challenge yourself. Practice more and do not jump to conclusions fast. Try to understand yourself by understanding the others. This helps you become a good listener.

Angelos Vasileiou

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