This communication topic is something that starts to fascinate me. The more I learn about it, the more I realize I am a novice at this. I’ll be paraphrasing Terrell Owens who said that we usually are waiting for the other person to stop talking so we can start expressing ourselves. Oh, it would be so good if we wait for that other person to stop talking (we sometimes love to interrupt our communication partner).
If I think about it, listening to respond is not even listening. We hear some things and we start forming our response based on those things while ignoring others. We filter what we hear based on our core beliefs and we don’t take into consideration what that person is trying to say. We hear some words that trigger us even though it might have no importance for the person that uses them. I think that if we aren’t sure that we understood the message, we have no right to form an opinion about it.
But how? How can we be sure that we truly understood the message? Well, by rephrasing and asking questions. Once the owner of the message agreed that what we think we understood it is indeed what that person tried to express, then we can start forming our opinion. It will probably take a little longer to do this whole communicating process better, but I believe it’s better to go into a deeper understanding than misunderstanding multiple topics. In time, once this becomes a habit, it will get easier and easier.
Ok, so what does listening to understand means? I believe it means to pay attention to that communication partner whilst trying to silence our own thoughts because thoughts will come. They always come. It’s like Jim Carrey in the movie Bruce Almighty, if you’ve seen it. When we pay attention to our communication partner, we’ll start picking up the difference in tonality and the body language. Those are important as well because a change in tonality or a body shift while talking about a particular thing might mean something. It doesn’t mean that it does, but we can test it by asking additional questions about that particular thing. If we don’t listen, we cannot pick that up.
How would you rate your communication skills?