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Listening Skills I Learnt From My 9 Year Old

I work from home occasionally and some times I work out side in my rented office. It was one of those days where I was working from home. While in my home office my nine year old son decided that he would pay me a visit as he usually does right when I am up to my eye balls with paper work. I must admit that my first initial thoughts was to tell him “turn right round and go back out though that door”. The second was to invite him in and automatically lower my listening ear and pretend that I was listening to everything he was saying.

Luckily I choose none of the above, I invited him in stopped my work and proceeded to listen to what he had to say, “boy……. was I glad I did”. I learnt a lot more about my darling boy that day, than I probably would have if I chose not to listen closely to him.

In order for us to be able to communicate successfully with others we have to
develop our listening skills, truly listening to what someone else is saying and taking that extra time to understanding them is the key to effective communication. While the majority of us think we listen to what others are saying, the opposite is true in fact very few of us actually do listen intently and this is where misunderstandings can arise, which could potentially lead to difficulties and sometimes arguments.

Most of us has, over the years developed poor listening habits and have
continued through life with these habits, some of the most common habits that people have developed which leads to poor listening skills include:-

• Listening without really hearing what the other person is saying, which often  leaves us missing the point.
• We allow other influences around us to distract us and drift away from  the conversation.
• We pretend we are listening when in fact we are thinking of something  else and only hear snatches of what is being said.
• Very often start out listening then if we think we know what is being  said, interrupt the person before they have finished talking.
• A person can often hear what they want to hear, or what they think they  should be haring which is often very different from what is actually  being said.
• We often assume we known why something is being said and jump on  the defensive side.
• We cant wait for an opportunity to butt into the conversation with our  own point of view.

These are the most common mistakes that many of us make when it comes to listening, or rather, not listening. However by realizing your mistakes and attempting to change them you are more likely to be aware of your mistakes, and this makes changing bad habits easier. To develop positive and effective listening habits you should follow the following tips:-

  • Even if what the talker is saying is boring, you really have to force  yourself to listen intently to what they are saying and not be tempted to drift away into your own world. As well as focusing on what they are  saying, watch their body language such as eye contact, hand  movements and head nods.
  • Listen to everything they are saying even if this means acknowledging the unpleasant or what you don’t particularly want to hear.
  • Try not to draw any conclusion before you have heard everything the person is saying to you, don’t butt into the conversation before they have finished by guessing what they are going to say.
  •  Question the speaker in a non-judgemental way, by asking questions in  this manner you will very often find that what the speaker has in mind and what you assumed are two different things.
  • When unsure ask them directly if what you think is actually what they meant, this can very often alleviate or stop any misunderstandings from occurring.

The more you practice improving your listening skills the easier it becomes until you develop these new habits as second nature. You will then find that you get along with people easier and are less likely to get into conflicts through misunderstandings. The world also becomes a better place as you are choosing to see the beauty in little things

A little note of thanks to my 9 year old son!


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