The answer is simple. We have FEELINGS that ‘bump’ up against logic. Research shows when people are angry, fearful, deeply sad, or even overjoyed, our listening can be selective at best. How do we listen if we are full of feelings? Think about a time when you were upset with a partner, friend, or work associate. Were you effective at telling them what your distress was about? Were you effective at listening to their reply? One beneficial skill of listening is taking turns, like we were taught to do as children. If you know that you are going to get “A TURN,” it is easier to relax, take a deep breath, and CONCENTRATE on what the other person is saying, not on what you are going to say next!
If you notice you are rehearsing your reply, forget it, you are not listening. Simply give yourself a gentle nudge and refocus. If you are talking to someone familiar, you can even say, “forgive me, I wandered for a moment and I really want to listen to you.” We have all had the experience of speaking and the listener has a blank stare on their face, or worse yet their eyes are wandering all over the place. You can tell by their expression they are not listening. Challenge yourself to be a better listener from here on out. You may be surprised by what you hear.