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be SILENT to LISTEN!

Sshhh!!! Silence please!!! Keep quiet!!! Stop talking!!!

Words which, I am sure, will take many of us back to our childhood and Kindergarten classes, right??!!! Right back to our teachers shouting and trying their best to get us to listen to their lessons and to their instructions! That we have to maintain silence in order to be able to listen is an age old formula that we have always been taught and will continue to teach for generations to come… and rightly so too!

In today’s corporate scenario, it is neither just technical competency nor just the hardworking ability that take priority whilst employing individuals. Communication is one of the vital aspects taken into consideration too, and a core aspect of communication is the ability to listen. In today’s fast moving world, maintaining personal relationships has sometimes become a challenge, especially when both partners are busy with their respective jobs and have lesser and lesser time to give each other and their family. In both the above cases, taking time out and truly listening to the other person can be an effective solution.

It cannot be just a coincidence that the words LISTEN and SILENT are anagrams i.e. are made out of the same alphabets! It is therefore, but natural that for us to learn how to LISTEN, one must learn to be SILENT first! Let us now understand what being SILENT means:

• S: Sincere – Do you remember the times when the person in front of you was smiling with a sombre look on their face, with all the right signs of listening, and yet you just know that they are not interested at that time, that they are not sincerely listening to you but just so for the heck of it??? Well remember this, so can everyone else make out too!!! Yes, so here is the first step to being SILENT to LISTEN: be sincerely interested in what you are supposedly listening to…

• I: Inquisitive – Be curious. When one is intently listening to something, one’s brain automatically keeps working on the same too. This raises questions in the listener’s mind which they would want clarified. This also helps the speaker to understand that the other individual is truly listening and attempting to understand what is being said. It is thus a good idea to ask relevant and non-threatening questions to customize the conversations.

• L: Like person – Make sure that you like who are listening to… Their communication ability, their competency in the subject, their handling of the audience and the content, etc… Many a time I have seen listening of an amazing topic go flat just because according to the listener, the speaker’s behaviour and value system did not resonate with what was being said. Not just the content of what is being said, but also the person saying it has a lot of impact on how well it is listened to. Ensure that you talk to and are hearing from the right person.

• E: Empathize – Sometimes listening is not just about hearing what is being said, but it is also about communicating feeling what the other person is feeling. Especially when the other individual is sharing information connected with emotions, be they positive and negative, that of joy or sadness, one ought to be able to relate and express empathy on the same towards the other person. After all they are talking to a human being and not a wall!

• N: Non-verbal communication – Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Your actions speak so loudly that I can’t hear your words!” The impact of the right non-verbal communication whilst listening is vital for the other person to get the feeling and acceptance that listening is happening. So, nod once a while when appropriate, smile at the other person, lean forward, show facial expressions, and let the other individual know that yes, you are listening!

• T: Talk- Listening also involves talking… to a certain extent! One needs to paraphrase (repeat the speaker’s words in their own words) once in a while. One also needs to ask the right questions to continue and steer conversations while also summarizing points once in a while. Also important to talk during listening, is to once in a while also express thoughts about self to the listener as course of self-disclosure in order to continue conversations smoothly. So, talking to the right extent n in the right manner is vital to listen effectively!

From Robert Cialdini who said that listening to the other person helps you to convey your point more effectively, to Stephen Covey who emphasized listening as very important under his 5th habit ‘Seek first to understand than to be understood’ in his popular book ‘7 Habits of Highly Effectively People’, the importance of listening to one another is highlighted in many ways. We ought to learn and practice the above constantly!

Be SILENT so you can LISTEN…
You have the power!

—————————————-
Published in ‘The Hans India’ on 25th Aug 2011

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September 4, 2011 - Posted by | RevathiOnline Learning, The Hans India Newspaper | , , , , , , , ,

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