If you’ve ever been in a Contagious Communication™ class, you’ve likely heard me talk about the four levels of listening. They are a key critical piece of the two way street in communication. Wait a minute! Haven’t most of us been taught that in order to communicate better, we have to watch not only what we say, but how we say it? Haven’t we been trained to look at body language and eye contact? Sure. All are aspects of communication, much like listening. The challenge is most of us aren’t, or weren’t, taught to listen… at least not well. They’re usually reminded to HEAR… hearing is a gift…listening is a skill.
When we teach listening, we include a diagram of the WHOLE conversation. You see, there are almost always three dialogues happening simultaneously: the one in your head, the one in their head and the one you can hear being said aloud. Listening requires quieting the voices in your own head and reducing your focus on any noise that might be present, as well. Plus, there are a lot of things to listen to or “listen for”, other than just the words one says.
If we fail to hear, we’ll usually say “do what?” or “beg pardon” and it’s all okay. If we’re not listening, it’s not that easy for most. There’s the guilt of having mentally drifted away. There’s the confusion and embarrassment that exists if you didn’t hear the question or have a relevant answer when they stopped talking.
So, what does listening have to do with communication anyway? Yes, it’s an important part, but how important is it really? Well, let’s see:
- It keeps the conversation flowing back and forth
- It allows you to contribute in a meaningful and relevant manner.
- It gives the other person the feeling of being heard and this builds relationships.
What’s listening got to do with it? A lot, but it’s even more than that. Communication cannot effectively take place without it. It would be like having a PB&J without the J or without the PB – it’s only half of the story. How often in your Contagious Communication™ efforts are you speaking far more than you’re listening and is it allowing you to get the whole message or merely have yours be heard?