Stephen R. Covey quoted, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Listening is a skill that most of us, including myself, need a lot more practice of. Before starting my blog post, I looked up the definition of ‘Listen’ from Dictionary.com:
Think back to a recent conversation you have had with a family member or friend. Were you fully engaged with what was being said? Were you preoccupied with other thoughts or emotions? Were other distractions decreasing your communication focus? How did you respond to what the other person was saying?
The following are two mindful listening exercises:
- SURROUNDING SOUNDS – Take five minutes to stop what you are doing, no matter where you are, and notice the sounds. It could be kids playing outside, a copier in the background, a clock ticking, or the rain falling. Just listen and observe without reacting. Allow yourself to be in the moment.
- MINDFUL CONVERSATION: From Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute – Find a family member, friend, or co-worker. Take turns speaking for three minutes at a time of uninterrupted speaking. As the listener, you are only allowed to say, “I see” or “I understand.” During this three minutes see how you react to the conversation.
- Did you fell the urge to tell your own experience or story?
- Did you want to offer advice?
- What emotions were you having during the three minutes?
- Are you judging or making assumptions?
- What are the unspoken characters of the communication?
Here is a video demonstrating the difference between Mindless and Mindful Listening:
There are many techniques to improve your listening. Dedicate time weekly to practice mindful listening so that you can adopt these new habits in your day-to-day interactions. Please share your listening lessons and what steps you have taken to better your communication.