Are You Listening?

Are You Listening?

 We are happy that Melanie [Smiley Melly] is honoring us with a Guest Post today. She has been a valuable member of the Life,for instance community since we began in November. We appreciate the contribution of her introspective, thought-provoking comments and that she took the time to share her thoughts in this article.

I mean are you really listening?

As a communicator I often think so much about the messages I send out, and how they will be interpreted, but isn’t one of the most important parts of good communication listening?

I don’t mean listening as in the act of passively taking in information, I mean through-to-the-soul-active-listening.

When I reflect on my listening skills I think it’s an area where so often I fall short because my ability to actively listen is something I often struggle with. It’s not from a lack of knowing how. I even developed a 3-step process!

How to actively listen:

  1. Absorb information being sent
  2. Attempt to extract meaning
  3. Provide a validating and insightful response

So why is it that so often I stop at #1? When I hear a story I immediately think of a similar one that I have and want to share. I have to work hard to get through the three steps. To take the story of a friend going to the park and ask how their time was and when they tell me they lost their dog while there to say, “That must have been scary; I know how much you love Fido.”

Instead of, “That’s crazy! This one time we lost my little sister at the park, it was really scary!”

I was originally going to write this post about something I feel I’m good at, but I love learning with others and sharing struggles. I would love to hear your thoughts and tips on listening.

What do you think it means to be a good listener? Are you a good listener?

photo credit: Karen Dorsett

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