I love listening to different podcasts, webinars, Ted talks and sermons on my high tech smart phone. Most recently, a sermon focused on the art of being intentional and engaging while listening to others. Most people recognize listening is an important piece of communication and as guests continue to participate in our program it makes me realize how powerful active listening can really be. In fact, this sermon stressed that “anytime we are talking, we are not actively listening.”
Think about it…we all thrive to voice our opinions, share our beliefs, and gain approval from others—especially through words. Clear evidence of this is simply going on Facebook and reading status updates or links shared. However, sometimes we tend to do too much talking, including myself, and not enough listening to what others are saying. In fact, I bet a lot of us think we are good listeners…but are we really? The tips below are strategies and must be practiced in order to become a better listener:
- Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view. I’ll give an example: You attend H3 for 2 weeks and you just got back home to your husband, dog, and full-time job. You are on a health “high” and you want the ice cream out of the freezer, the alarm to go off at 5:00 am, and you no longer want to entertain house guests for the next 3 months so you can focus on your health. These are all wonderful things, but what if your husband is having a hard time understanding this change? As you get home from H3 make sure to communicate about your experience as well as listen to how your healthy lifestyle change will impact those around you.
- Be genuinely interested in what the other person is saying. Ask questions. Participate through body language. Emphasize. To put it simply…genuinely care. For example, when giving lectures at H3 I love when guests ask questions. It shows me they want to learn and apply new things at home. There are also times when it can be hard to control a lecture because one person in the group takes over and may ask 5-10 questions that only focus on who? “me.” These are the times that I wonder if they are actively listening to not only what I am saying, but also to the other lectures.
As you continue on your health journey ask yourself if you are listening to those around you. Are you listening to your personal trainer? Are you engaged at work? Do you listen to your Doctor when he encourages you to practice something new? I hope these two points help you in your day to day encounters and remember…. when you doing the talking, we are not actively listening.