Elements of Communication: Element #3: Listening

This is continuation of my Elements of Communication series, where I talk about the importance of communication in a relationship – or any interaction, for that matter. Here are the elements so far:

Element #1 – Having an Opinion
Element #2 – Being Willing to Give Space & Trust
Element #3 – Listening

Now this may not make sense to some because when we think about the basic form of communication, we think about expressing ourselves either by talking or some type of visual articulation. But none of what you say will mean anything if no one is listening. Some of the best times you communicate are when you shut your mouth, listen and pay attention to what’s being said.

If you don’t realize it by now, this post will be rather short and to the point.

When you can hear passion in someone’s voice or if you can tell someone wants to tell you something important, the best thing you can do is shut up, let them express themselves and listen.

If someone just needs to get some stuff off of their chest and are NOT looking for advice – maybe not even an opinion – shut up and listen. This one is especially important because if you can’t handle being someone’s soundboard, then don’t bother. You’ll be wasting their time and you might even heighten their frustration or complicate things.

Part of listening is actually being able to understand what someone says. If it requires you to repeat what they say or ask questions to better understand, then do so. The person speaking will appreciate that, knowing that you are listening.

It’s tough to keep your mouth shut when you have all of these opinions forming in your head as he or she is speaking but it takes a bigger person to keep them to themselves and only speak their mind when asked to.

If you are able to listen to what is being said – and the conversation calls for it – you can be able to say some very profound things. For example, if someone is talking to you and you can almost tell that they are “thinking out loud” or not sure of some things, if you are truly paying attention, you can help guide them to their understanding and have really good dialogue. You have no idea how much I have learned by being able to listen to people and share thoughts back and forth.

I think in the end to enhance things, you have to be able to just listen and pay attention to what’s being said. Many of what I just said, you already know, but how often do you really practice this? You’ll learn so much more and there are so many benefits that can come from just this simple but elusive ability.

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