I’m big on listening to people – it’s an underused skill and too many feel unheard.
When it comes to business – or any scenario where groups of people work together – I’ve long said that a team that doesn’t feel heard doesn’t feel appreciated, and I stand by that.
Stephen R Covey, author Of The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People, famously said: “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”
I believe that to be absolutely true.
Nobody actually teaches us to listen properly – we listen to compete or to react; instead of giving 100% of our attention to the person talking, our monkey minds are too busy thinking about what we’ll say in response. Or – worse – we have only a tiny part of our attention on the conversation, and the rest on our to do list, plans for our next vacation or what might be happening on whichever TV show we’re currently hooked on.
Even when we *think* we’re listening, we’re often paying only just enough attention to the words being spilled and not noticing anything about that person’s body language or behaviour.
In all our efforts to listen, some of us have stopped *watching*.
Yep. In order to fully pay attention, we need to engage far more than our ears!
“Don’t listen to what people say, watch what they do,” as the saying goes.
When I’m talking about listening to people, I’m really talking about engaging all the senses, listening from the heart, tuning in for truth, potential, trustworthiness, integrity… all those things that allow us to discern with wisdom and clarity.
There’s a difference between really listening to someone and just hearing the words they spout.
Just as there’s a difference between noticing someone, maybe consuming their content online, or saying ‘hello’ across the office, and really watching.
It’s a fast moving world, particularly with social media. Arguably, we need to hone our senses even more and really learn to pay attention.
If we listen and watch properly, we’ll sometimes spot incongruencies between words and actions – and that doesn’t always denote something ‘sinister’. Sometimes, those incongruencies might alert us to someone struggling or going through a tough time – they might be an early warning sign that someone needs support.
It’s about being able to help and spotting the signals that someone might be in need before they tell us.
As I write, it’s Mental Health Awareness Week here in the UK.
If we’re honest, we all know someone who’s struggled with their mental health at some point – I suspect most of us have. There’s still so much stigma attached to everything from depression to anxiety though, many of us still don’t feel able to speak out.
If we can learn to hone our senses and ‘listen’ with all that we have, we might just be able to help and support our loved ones at a much deeper level – and offer to stand shoulder to shoulder with someone far earlier in the process.
Are you ready to up your listening game and build your awareness?
Learn to read people. Learn to be absolutely in the moment and give someone your undivided attention. Listen with more than your ears. You might be helping someone far more than you realise.
Until next time,