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I am a bad, BAD listener. How about you?

ICE Graveyard 3/05/2016 Greg Savage
EARS CLOSED © gpointstudio via Getty Images EARS CLOSED

I like to think I am a solid communicator, and it's true I can write a pithy paragraph, and contrive a sound argument. I can communicate ideas from a stage, or in a one-on-one, as well as most, I suppose.
But communicating is listening too right? In fact, surely 'understanding' is the foundation of it all?
So 'active listening' is a key business skill. Indeed it's a highly evolved human competency. And I lack it. Well often I do, anyway.
I know what I do wrong, but I seem unable to make big improvements. I see the same fault in others, and it irritates me no end.
So this is my year to become a better listener.
Listen to understand, not to formulate an answer.
Stop interrupting. (I am disgracefully guilty of this)
To be 'more present'. Not to allow my mind to wander. To focus and concentrate. On the other person.
Stop assuming I know what someone is going to say.
To listen to 'the whole person'. In other words, be attuned to body language, tone and other non-verbal signals, so I really can understand.
• Approach a conversation with a more open mind, with more empathy.
• To be 'slower to understand'. Not to jump in with a solution too fast. To think more before I talk.
• To ask more and smarter questions, so I really do understand.
Not to be defensive when I sense criticism or a different point of view.
I know I will fail at much of this. But I will try. And I will get better. Because it's important. At work. In personal relationships. With your kids.
I need to worry far less about 'being right', and far more about 'being right about what the other person thinks and feels'.
I need to remind myself every morning (and you might consider doing the same) that nothing I say today is going to teach me anything. Only by listening will I learn anything new.
I have mentioned elsewhere how the best recruiter I ever knew was a great listener. All the people I really respect and trust and go to for insights, are great listeners.
When someone really listens to you, you feel respected. Validated.
I must do better.
How about you?
Greg Savage

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