The ears / mouth equation…

Monday has left me totally flipping exasperated. I’m talking, but no one – and I mean no-one – is listening to me.  And I don’t talk because I like the sound of my own voice.  Well I do. But that’s not the issue at hand today.

Listening is vital to any relationship – work, personal, family, social etc. – it helps to build trust, rapport and understanding.  If you don’t listen properly then ultimately the relationship will falter and stall.

Listening is an art form. It isn’t just about bending an ear in someone’s direction, periodically catching their eye, nodding every now and again and saying “mmhh” at the right point. It’s about so much more than that.  Listening isn’t just about what you see at face-value; it’s about the non-verbal stuff too.

When you listen to someone else, you shouldn’t just use your ears. That sounds dumb right? Go with me on this one… You should listen with your eyes, your feelings and your instinct.  You should watch the other person. Are they turning away from you?  Fidgeting? Uncomfortable? Open? Embarrassed? Demonstrative?

Listen to tone of voice, as well as words. Listen to the silence.  Listen for the words that don’t get said; to the spaces between the sentences, the small hesitations and the pauses.  Listen to the actual words, and specifically the type of language that is used.

As a listener it is down to you to understand, interpret, and evaluate what you hear. A good listener can dissolve conflict, engender cooperation, and foster understanding. And – most importantly – a good listener makes the person that they are listening to feel heard.

Oh and for the record – you’ve got two ears and one mouth – there’s a reason for that you know…

One thought on “The ears / mouth equation…

  1. Good post Mel! Being home based means that a lot of my communicating is done over the phone. I very quickly learned to recognise when I’m calling someone at a bad time and I try to always ask if I’m calling at a good time. There is nothing worse than not being listened to, unfortunately it’s a skill that we have to work on and it comes easier for some than others. I get very frustrated when I speak to someone in person and they don’t even look interested (though that might be something to do with the fact I’m good at talking)!

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