Have you ever stopped during a conversation with someone and asked yourself…am I listening? or am I hearing what they are saying? What’s the difference? Were you more worried about your next thought or what you would say next?

Hearing is the faculty of perceiving sounds, while listening is to give one’s attention to a sound. Meaning you may not have been listening only hearing. So let’s dissect these questions to get to the root of listening. And, how it can and will affect your communication skills.

In your daily interactions, you will spend more time utilizing your listening skills than any other skill you will need in effective engagement and communication. Mastering your listening skills takes practice and consciousness to remove distractions and clear your mind.

There are three simple rules; hear, understand and, judge.

To hear is the perception of sounds.  To understand is the limit of conceptualization. You conceptualize it to a given measure. To judge is to form an opinion or conclusion about something or someone after careful thought or consideration.

You need to ensure you are hearing the message so you will be able to utilize it’s content to understand the message. Allowing you to judge the content of the message prior to delivering your response.

Quick tips for good listening:

  1. Stay focused and attentive until the person speaking is done and paused. Ensure you are paying full attention to their message and not worried about what you will say next.
  2. Nonverbal cues are a good way for the speaker to know they have your attention. A quick nod to show that you understand and at appropriate points you may also smile, frown, laugh, or be silent. These are ways to let the speaker know you are listening. You can listen with your face as well as your ears!
  3. Use the “hear, understand and judge” concept to grab the speaker’s message and do not be afraid to repeat portions of their message to clarify points with them. Do not be afraid to ask questions for clarity.
  4. Think fast. Thoughts move about four times as fast as speech. While listening, think about what you are hearing, really understand it and then give your formed response.

Listen Up! Stay Focused!

Robert Van Arlen, Keynote Speaker & Business Strategist

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