We do it every minute of every day, but is it time to step back and ask, 'Am I really listening right now?'
One of the great things you can offer another person is real and active listening – not just hearing, but truly listening. Truly listening to someone shows them that they, and their experiences, are of value. By truly listening you can create the mental space for someone to explore their own ideas and understandings.
Anyone can find being listened to an empowering experience that gives them confidence in themselves. When you speak up in a discussion you will often hear the expression ‘l hear what you say’, but have you been truly heard? Most people listen, not to try to understand what you are saying, but with the intention of telling you what they think! They may be paying far more attention to what’s going on inside their own head, and what they want to say, than to what they are hearing.
Hearing is a physical thing that brings an awareness of sound, whereas listening is a mental process. The messages you receive are converted through your intellectual processes, so that what you hear becomes something that you can connect with and comprehend.
If you need to make sure you have really understood what is being said to you, then repeat it back to the other person. You could say, “So are you saying...?”
It also helps sometimes to allow some silence. You may find that hard, as silence can be uncomfortable, but sometimes by allowing silence you let the other person have thinking time, and they will start to speak again.
There is so much to learn from listening. In all aspects if life we need to consider how to nurture a listening and thinking environment. With family, friends, or work colleagues, your communication and understanding will be greatly enhanced when you work at creating an attitude of active listening.
To speak to Geraldine for individual advice on communication and mental health problems advice you can view her profile here.