Give the gift that keeps on giving: listening
December 17, 2007
This holiday, give a gift that will keep on giving to both the giftee and the gifter. Not only does this gift cost nothing, but also, one size fits all and it can be found right here in Grand County – shop locally. Know, however, that, for most people, some assembly may be required.
This holiday, give the gift of listening.
“Oh, bother,” you may say. “Listening is not a gift.” As a life coach and facilitator, I heartily disagree. Individual and group communication is absolutely dependent on vital, gifted listening. Everyone appreciates being listened to. Your listening giftee will feel flattered, pampered and complete when you give your full attention to their messages, both spoken and not spoken.
Yes, some assembly is required for this thoughtful gift because most of us do not generally apply ourselves to the practice of listening. We definitely hear a lot, but do we listen? Hearing is a physiological process of sound waves and impulses to the brain; listening involves that next step to make sense of what we hear.
Effective listening is considered one of the most powerful traits of successful people. With listening, we gather ideas and information. We spend more time listening than any other communicative activity. Even so, our schools are not known to emphasize the basics: Reading, writing, and listening. We have much to learn.
Why is listening such a challenge? Multitasking is the major roadblock in this vital interaction. When others speak at 120 to 250 words per minute, our brains can be processing as much as 3,000 words per minute (maybe no one we know could say that much, but it could happen).
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At the least, we still have a lot of brain time to entertain when someone else is speaking their thoughts. Instead of immersing ourselves into the ideas and knowledge being expressed to us, we are often tending to our own mental tasks including, “What will I say as soon as I can break in?”, “How will I prove them wrong?”, “What will I eat for dinner?” and “Gee, why are they so boring?”
May I suggest you begin assembling your listening gift now? Practice your intentions to discover the message your giftee is sending. To do this you may need to put together the pieces and parts of active listening. Your first step is to concentrate. Be aware of your own mental chatter and focus on your giftee’s words and body language with an open mind and heart.
Your second step is to suspend all judgment and to be present to the speaker’s perspective, logic, and unique situation. Use all of your senses to be with the giftee. Fill your surplus brain space with awareness of their voice, body language, choice of words, energy, consistency, needs, distractions, references, authenticity, presentation, depth and hidden messages. Now, you are truly mentally multitasking.
The third step is to give of yourself. Give the listening giftee your active attention. Your eye contact and encouraging responses tell your speaker that they are being listened to. Check to make sure you are receiving their message as clearly as possible.
Paraphrase their statements, ask clarifying questions, reflect the feelings you are sensing from them, and give neutral feedback whenever possible without interrupting their uninhibited expression.
If you discover yourself thinking about your next verbal interjection, then you are not listening. Simply reassemble your intentions and skills and continue your gift-giving actions of listening. Allowing at least 10 seconds before you finally respond will give you plenty of time to gather your own thoughts and complimentary ideas after your giftee is satisfied.
Take your listening gift to the highest level. Gift wrap a small box, tie it with a bow, and present it to your listening giftee. They can forever display the package to signal their need for your listening attention. Community group members can pass to one another this wrapped listen-gift as they complete their comments and wait the seconds it takes for the next speaker to prepare their thoughts.
As with all gifts, the true pleasure is with the giver. The more you give the more you get. You, as the listening gifter will be blessed with true exploration and insight into the thoughts and ideas of others, your giftees. You will expand within your own open mind and see the world through the eyes of many. Remember one size fits all, so be sure to put a listening wish on your own holiday list as well.
” Marianne Klancke is a certified professional coach and group development facilitator. She welcomes any comments and questions at email@example.com.
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