Awaken Your Ears!

Jan 27, 2024

Transforming from a Lazy to an Engaged Listener

According to renowned behavioral psychologist Dr. Albert Mehrabian, only 7% of your message is delivered by your words. The rest of your message, or 38% is delivered by your tone of voice and 55% is through your body language.

That’s right: If you speak to your boss, your partner, your child, or your friend for 10 minutes, it is likely that they only heard less than 1 minute of what you said if they didn’t see your face or have their full attention. And you wonder why your kid didn’t pick up their socks scattered haphazardly across the floor?

As listeners, we can also fail the test. Why? It’s possible that we are critical or passive listeners who aren’t engaged in intentionally listening to the speaker.

Here are some likely culprits if you are accused of being a less-than-stellar listener.

  • Getting stuck inside your own head and listening to your inner dialogue.
  • Daydreaming while the other person is speaking.
  • Being distracted. Yes, that is a colorful bird flying by outside but don’t get distracted by the bird.
  • Merely pretending to engage with the speaker.
  • Interrupting the speaker to offer comments, solutions, or your own story (“I remember a time like the one you described…”).
  • Rushing the speaker.
  • Not showing engagement with the speaker or respect for the speaker.
  • Not making eye contact with the speaker.
  • Focusing on the superficial meaning and not the underlying meaning of the speaker's words.
  • Focusing on the minutia and missing the “big picture.” Worse yet, Asking a tsunami of questions about unimportant details.
  • Forgetting any progress made in previous conversations.

There is a critical distinction between passive and active listening, particularly in situations where the speaker mentions something that may not be immediately understood by the listener. When faced with unclear or complex content, a passive listener might choose to overlook or disregard this information, continuing to listen without seeking clarification. This approach can lead to misunderstandings, incomplete comprehension of the message, and a lack of depth in the conversation. Essentially, by ignoring parts of the conversation that are not understood, a passive listener misses the opportunity to engage with the speaker's message thoroughly.

On the other hand, an active listener recognizes the importance of understanding the entire message. When encountering something unclear, they take proactive steps to address this gap in understanding. This could involve asking the speaker to elaborate on the point, provide examples for clarity, or rephrase the information in simpler terms. Such actions demonstrate a genuine interest in and commitment to the conversation, signaling to the speaker that their message is valued and that the listener fully comprehends it.

This distinction is crucial because effective communication relies on both parties understanding each other fully. By being an active listener and addressing areas of confusion, you contribute to a more meaningful exchange where ideas and emotions are accurately shared and understood. This enriches the conversation and strengthens the relationship between the speaker and the listener, fostering a sense of mutual respect and connection.

Listening and processing what the other person is saying is much more critical. The following post will share tips for becoming an engaged, active listener.  Reach out if either Lorena or Julie can assist you at [email protected].

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