6 Ways You Don’t Listen And What To Do Instead

How To Have Effective Holiday Conversations!

Have you thought about how many conversations you’ll be engaged in between now and the New Year? A lot!  While the people and conversations will vary, one thing they all share in common is that they will have some level of impact on you, the other person and often a wider circle of people you aren’t even aware of.   How you show-up for these and listen matters more than you think.

I was reminded recently of my own faux pas in this area when someone one asked my opinion about something they had just shared with me in long-winded fashioned.  The truth was that I had started daydreaming at some point and couldn’t. Instead, I apologized and we had to start over. Awkward.

While I bet you can recall a conversation faux pas of your own, I also bet none of us can fully realize what these kind of moments cost us in both relationship and opportunity.

An effective conversation starts with how you listen…..really listen.

6 Ways You Don’t Listen and How To Recognize them

Here are six ways we fool ourselves when it comes to listening:

  1. Judgmental listening- You come to conclusions before you’ve heard 5% of what the other person has to say OR you find yourself passing sentence on someone in order to self-justify and self-elevate.
  2. Selective listening- You tune in to only what you want to hear (“channel surfing”), which includes tuning out all together.
  3. Impatient listening-  You finish someone’s word or sentence before they do.
  4. Egocentric listening- You think about what you’re going to say while they talking.
  5. Patronizing listening- You think about something else when the other person talking.
  6. Stubborn listening- Your listening but not openly; your mind is made up.

The trouble for us is that we don’t fool anyone else.

How should you listen instead?

Listen actively and with focus.  Unlike the ways of listening listed above, the key element in active or reflective listening is what you say in response to what the speaker offers. That’s why Thomas Gordon labeled it active listening back in 1970.

When I do talk, what should I do and say?

Use the five key communication skills below, which are the expressive part of the invisible activity calle active listening:

  • Ask open ended questions. Start your questions with with What and How. This is the easiest and most effective way from the closed question habit. When and Where are also good. Use “Why” limitedly and with the right tone, otherwise you may come off to as aggressive, demanding or explanation, which will make the other person defensive. Michael Hyatt has some specific questions and guidance in the context of the holidays and the dinner table that are excellent.
  • Affirm- cultivate a mindset that consciously looks for the other person’s strengths, positive actions and unique value and perspectives. Accentuate these.
  • Reflect- Repeat back key parts of what the other person has said for better understanding and clarification.  Making a guess about what they mean and asking if you’re on target is also important. It lets you know if you’re following them accurately, shows them you’re actively listening and it may just jolt them in a way that allows them to gain clarity and better awareness about what they are really trying to say.
  • Summarize- Essentially a summary of earlier reflections offered back to the person in a basket.  It demonstrates that you’ve been listening carefully, remembering and valuing what they say. It also can help paint a picture of what they really mean in way that allows them to look at it from a new perspective.
  • Permission- Ask first before providing information and advice.

Knowing how you don’t listen, how to catch yourself when you’re doing it and what communication skills to use instead is a good start. If you want to be effective though, you have to practice. The holiday season will give you plenty of opportunity.

What’s got you most excited about your upcoming practice opportunities?

Please leave a comment, I’d love to know and am ready to listen (actively).