Thoughts, contemplation, & self-reflection

Listen with the Intent to Understand

‘Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply’

stephen covey, the seven habits of highly effective people.

All people ever want is for someone to listen and to know they are being heard.

Listening…. why is this so hard? Why do we find our instinct is to either to answer with a quick wrapped response or brush off the topic. Have you found that when someone is asking you How are you doing?, you find them either distracted or maybe uninterested or maybe you get the generic answer All good. Stephen Covey, represents this well in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.

Conversations are a key element to communication. Over the years I have both learnt and experienced different approaches and techniques to during conversations. It is easy to get caught up in your thoughts, maybe the subject matter isn’t interesting and you find yourself tempted to interrupt or jump ahead of the discussion. Maybe you sometimes have been distracted with other thoughts. One of my favourites is, there are burning issues that are contending or you go through the motions, like a checklist. These are all barriers to listening to someone.

I have found a few things that have worked over the years:

  • Do not interrupt, let the person finish what they are saying, it may be that they are in need of a sound board.
  • Be there fully! not in spirit – it is easy to go through the notions of a discussion in a 1 on 1. Make an effort to fully be there, clear and park your thoughts on prep for your next meeting or a task that needs completion before the end of the day.
  • Listen, understand and repeat – Repeat what they are saying. Ask more questions that unpack the discussion.
  • Empathy is important and fundamental. Listen with empathy.

These principles have helped me see through the lens of someone, through improving the way I listen and understand. It takes a conscious effort to start listening, and I believe this is a key component of building strong relationships amongst your peers and people.

1 Comment

  1. Sergio Veloso

    Your are absolutely correct. These principles are very helpful and get you more connected with people.

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