Truly listening to someone

Post written by Orsolya Hernold

We have two ears and one mouth which is a great ratio to start with. Despite, our life is full of talking and giving information. We find ourselves on the other side of trying to listen, absorb and process all the words and pieces of information – especially at work. We are overwhelmed and exhausted by the end of the day, and cannot even listen to one sentence our partner or child tells us.

I cannot reduce the information in your life (actually I rather add on to it with this post), but I can help you with this exercise to improve your listening skill. Actively, truly listening to others can nourish a relationship by giving our scarcest resource to someone – our full attention. Observe your listening and make some notes about it.

When I am in a conversation with someone – for example interviewing a person for a job – many times I catch myself not really listening, but jumping ahead and thinking of the next question I will pose. I have noticed that I miss important pieces of our dialogue this way.

My other tendency is to interrupt and start a monologue of my opinion. What a great way to end the conversation (my daughter is my best teacher here) and emphasize my importance to the other.

The most discipline I need in listening is when I am with my coaching clients. There is a good method of helping them find their own solution to their problem: I paraphrase or reflect the story with my own words to them. I stick to what actually was said without judgment or interpretation.

Do not give up if it is not working for the first time! Find a conversation where there are no emotions involved, and try again. Long term habits of reacting to another talking to us need time to overcome. I also slip back to judgment and wondering off – and I think I will for quite some time. But I know how beautiful a conversation can become with true listening – people share more and turn to you with a more positive attitude. So it is worth practicing!


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