Active Listening: It is an art!

Have you ever tried to have a conversation with a someone who wouldn’t let you get a word in no matter how hard you try?  You want so badly to tell them something important or vent about something that happened to you that day and you just can’t? These people are self conversationalists, they don’t understand the art of active listening.

Have you seen this commercial?  My wife and I can safely say we have been there.  “I told you yesterday…”  “I thought you said…”  “But I specifically said…”  Did we forget what we told each other that easily or is a possibility that perhaps we weren’t really listening in the first place?  Sometimes its just too easy to be a self conversationalist.

I can spot a self conversationalist in a matter of seconds.  We all have these people in our lives and we are all guilty of this at one point or another.  It seems like no matter what you say they can use it as a transition to bring the conversation back to themselves.

Ellen Degeneres used this topic in her book “The Funny Thing Is.”  Comedians have to have such a keen eye for topics that everyone can relate to.  They have to take an issue and write content that is funny because you have been there too.  I read this book about 7 years ago and this idea is something that has stuck in my mind ever since.

You have to be constantly aware of a conversation, it is so easy to fall into auto pilot mode, only thinking about what you are going to say next while the other person is talking. People can sense this right away and it will make them feel as if what they are communicating doesn’t matter.  We don’t want to put people down, we want to build them up.  I always hear teachers and parents telling children that God gave them two ears and one mouth for a reason.  This is an excellent illustration not just for children, but for anyone and everyone.  In the Bible, we see this explained in the book of James.

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.  James 1:19 (NIV)

This type of listening is truly an art.  It isn’t easy and takes self discipline and practice.  From this day forward, make a commitment that you won’t be a self conversationalist.  Learn the art of active listening. People like when you listen to them, it lifts them up, it makes them feel good.  What if we all really listened to one another?  When we truly listen, we learn more.  Active listening make a huge positive impact on our relationships.

  1. Focus on what someone is telling you and without cutting them off, give them subtle cues that you are listening and understanding what they are saying.  For example, nodding, giggling, expressing “ah” “hm”  “wow!”
  2. When it is your turn to speak (and only when it is your turn to speak) let them know that you have been paying attention to what they have been telling you by responding with specific questions or comments about their story or what they have been communicating with you.
  3. Remember your body language and non-verbal communication.  Make eye contact, put your phone down, and be mindful of your posture.

Question: How do you deal with self conversationalists? You can leave a comment by clicking here.


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