A few weeks ago someone asked me a question about when communication will be effective and what is most important on that topic?
In my mind, one answer arrived straight away: listening. I believe listening is way more important than talking in the whole process of conversation. And there is a big difference between listening and hearing itself but most people don’t even realise it. One of the most common situations which I’m referring to is when you have a chat with someone and at the same time, you think about what else needs to be done or what to cook tonight. I know we are all on the same page and that multi-thinking does not exist, so it means that you are not listening at all. Don’t take it wrong. You still can be in the conversation, however, you are not fully taking the message from your caller. What would be the difference?
Listening is described as the attention to hearing. The word attention is crucial here. Hearing is a physical attribute: it is the awareness of sound. That’s why you are able to repeat exactly what other person was telling you, but you need to wrap your mind around it in order to process the words. I know it is not possible to listen to someone all the time because our focus is limited, however, the awareness of the fact that this skill should be improved needs to be in everyone.
Following the starting question, I thought about another reason for effective communication: awareness. Most people call it being in the here and now or understanding yourself. When you are fully here, you can focus, understand, and process. When you are in the future, you will relate your caller’s words to situations or feelings which didn’t happen. You will reflect all the words through a filter of who you are and how you feel, forgetting that you are not alone in the conversation. To be fully aware of the situation, you need to consider the other person, their thoughts and feelings which are strongly related to the first factor mentioned.
Empathy is building a bridge. It allows you to deliver a clear, consistent message with respect to other people. It feels like saying thank you for spending time together. It is understanding and feeling someone, but not necessarily being in their shoes. So if you say ‘I know what you mean’, you should ask yourself, if you really do. Have you ever experienced the same situation? In conversation you don’t need to relate to your caller’s story, you need to be there for them and give them your time. They need to feel listened to, that’s when the conversation is bringing joy to both sides.
Effective communication is not a skill which you will learn in one day, it is years of understanding yourself and learning others, so you don’t need to be so hard on yourself if your focus flies away for one second, you need to learn how to get back quickly to presence. I’m going to share more about this in my new course online, so check my social media for more information.