Do we listen to reply, or do we listen to understand?

In the business of communications, we send out messages with the objective that our target audiences decode the messages and form a desired perception. But the biggest problem in communications is that we listen to respond or reply. Do we really listen to understand and get feedback which we use constructively? Examine our daily conversations in life itself, is it a dialogue or monologue? Do we wait to talk and put our point across or listen and respond? Listening is an integral process of conversation or communication. If we continue to dominate professional or personal conversations with our inputs and views, we create one-way communications with our point of view. Most often people switch off if you do not have listening skills. Humans want to be heard too. Listening is important especially in the post pandemic era where people are coming out and interacting personally after extended periods of isolation during the lockdowns and other restriction. They want to be heard now, more than ever before. People want to make their point and want others to take cognisance of their opinions and views. Listening has emerged as a lever of communications, big time. So, how can you create a ‘listening mindset’?

Leverage the power of empathy

To go beyond your own self and what you feel, you need to discipline your mind to understand what others feel. Literally get into their shoes. Prioritise others you impact. Could be your colleague at work your best friend or a client. Genuine understanding of others will create the first vital pivot for you to put your point across with appeal and impact. Every conversation is not to prove that you said so and you are always right. Its all about free conversation on a topic. The rule of empathy applies informally in your personal relationships, but more formally in your business relationships- it makes relationships fruitful and sustainable

The power of patience

Giving others the power of your attentive listening requires patience. You need to invest time and energy for them to feel that you are listening to them and absorbing what they are saying by reacting in relevance. Patience does not mean procrastination, its just active listening. Its easy to interrupt a conversation or even interjecting with “What do you know, I have been doing this for 20 years”, but more difficult to listen and engage purposefully. Most professional discussions are about ideas, strategies, and reinvention. You should develop the patience to listen but also encourage others to talk and express themselves openly and constructively.

Body language

Passive listening is like invisible yawning but active listening means signalling that you are listening by staying connected and responding visibly. Try practicing this- get someone to talk to you with passion and you look here and there with a bored and distracted expression. Ask that person how he felt. I am certain that the person felt he was talking to the wall. The you will really understand what empathy in action means. Simple ways of encouraging an interesting conversation are by looking at the person eyeball to eyeball and nodding from time to time to acknowledge that you are hearing him. If you lean forward when he speaks, you are clearly demonstrating that you are interested in listening. 

Real engagement during a conversation results in fruitful exchange of views and opinions

P for passion

Passion creates its own fireside chats. If you are speaking about a subject, you are passionate about, the energy you create results in active listening. This is also true about how you respond to someone talking to you. Do you ever remember the buzz that happens when you and your friends have about a new series in Netflix or when you are discussing about last night’s football match?

“The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said” –Peter Drucker

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Amitesh Banerjee
Amitesh is a seasoned positive integrated communications disruptor with several years of multi- country/multi- domain experience. He has worked for reputed organisations in senior leadership positions including JWT, ITC, New Zealand Dairy Board, Seychelles Marketing Board, Perfect Relations, Genesis BCW, Adfactors, Della Group, H+K Strategies among others. Amitesh is Senior Vice President of Beanstalk Asia- a leading Integrated Marketing Communications firm.

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