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THE ART OF LISTENING


And Why Listening Is Not Something Passive


Some would argue that conversation is what got us this far as an evolving leading species.


The ability to understand each other and communicate ideas, questions, and feelings is how human relationships are built to this day and how they started way back in the prehistoric era.


The possibility to interact with other human beings and engage them in your stories as well as listen to theirs is one of the most fundamental stepping stones towards a healthy and honest connection.


With enough time, empathy, and openness, these links, once built, are, in turn, what binds friends and family together, potentially for life.


However, to reach this level of trust and understanding, each relationship starts with one seemingly simple act - conversation.


Any well-founded discourse has two basic parts: sharing and listening, each of which is equally important.


In this article, we’ll give you insight on the latter - the capability, or as we like to call it, the artistry of being a good listener.


Let’s get to it!



Why Is Listening Important?



Most people would initially define a conversation as a way to share their ideas, thoughts, and problems with someone they trust.


This is all okay and good. However, it's only half of the puzzle.


Although giving information is essential, receiving it and understanding it as it is intended is just as vital.


Everyone wants to be heard, and achieving this is only partly on the person who gives the information - the other part is the listener's responsibility.


We as people aren't perfect, therefore, our communication can't be, and that's completely okay.


Sometimes emotions from a different topic or experience affect how we share our ideas.


Other times, our physical or emotional state is at play, and sometimes even our subconscious is what's leading the way we talk.


What's even more important, however, is the fact that we can't always control or be aware of how we are being perceived by the listener, despite our best intentions.


And without a mutual and similar understanding of the conversation, we can't expect to get any positive outcome.


This is why a big, some would even say the central part of listening is being able to read the person opposite to you.


If we are good judges of character and a particular situation, we have a higher chance of understanding what the other person is trying to say, regardless of how they say it.


Once we have this skill down, the conversation becomes more fluent, and the chances of reaching an understanding are much bigger.



Becoming A Good Listener


Now that we understand why listening is important let's get some guidance on what the basics are and how to improve on them.


Being An Empath


The fundamental basic premise is relatively easy to explain - empathy.


Without it, there is almost no motivation on the giving side to truly get their point across or on the receiving one to understand all the details.


But with empathy, the process becomes easier and more enjoyable, and both parties have bigger potential for achieving their goals.


The Subconscious


Another essential aspect when we are listening to someone is being mindful of subconscious indicators.


Body language, intonation, using certain words or avoiding them, and so on - all of these are equally important when trying to understand what the person opposite us is really thinking and feeling.


For instance, did you know that when a person is crossing their arms, they likely don't feel like talking about this specific topic?


In fact, all sorts of "closed" positions and shorter, less descriptive sentences are the most common signs that someone is uncomfortable and would likely feel better if the conversation headed in a different direction.


Learning to recognize such seemingly minuscule details is what can make you a much better judge of the situation and, therefore, a better listener altogether.


Questions


Another crucial thing is asking questions.


We know it might sound controversial at first in the sense of "Are we supposed to be the ones talking?" but asking questions shows interest, and that's an excellent motivator for the one sharing.


Not only that, but by asking questions, we also stimulate our brains to stay alert and to really think about what the other person is saying. Therefore, the process improves for us too.


However, the idea to ask questions shouldn't be mixed with the intention of listening just to say something back.


In fact, this is one of the things we strongly advise against.


Listening shouldn't be just waiting for our turn to speak. It should be an attentive process with the other person's needs in mind.



Final Thoughts


We've all been in situations where we just want to vent, feel some sympathy, and that's it - not to receive advice, defend our opinion, just simply to share how we feel and have someone there to listen.


Being a good conversation partner also means letting the conversation become a monologue if the person needs it to be.


It's a tricky balance to maintain - understanding when to share and when not so that both parties are equal, but it's not impossible to learn.


Talking is something we start learning as kids and never really stop improving throughout our lives.


Listening is the same.


As we become better at one, we inevitably become better at the other, seeing as we understand each other's needs better.


The art of listening isn't impossible to master. It just takes time and practice.


And hopefully, with these ideas, this process just got a little bit easier for you!


How do YOU practice becoming a better listener? Comment below, and let’s discuss!


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