Have you ever stopped to listen to yourself?
Listening is one of the most important skills for human beings.
I have concluded that at the core of conflict there is a breakdown in communication and the parties’ inability to understand each other.
A conflict is often a monologue disguised as a dialogue.
We have the ability to stop and listen to ourselves. Communication is much more about what other people hear when you speak, or even how they see you when you walk into a room – before you ever utter a single word. If we are not aware of what our way of being communicates to others, it is time to stop, think about the things we have been doing or saying, reassess, and choose how to deal with the situations and people in our lives moving forward.
In this fast-paced world we live in, it becomes easy to go at life without any sort of introspection. Listening is one of the most difficult skills to master. Practice, in this case, will lead to more practice. Serious commitment is required. That being said, you will become a catalyst for change by living it daily.
The lesson is therefore to listen, listen and listen. People want to know that they are being heard. Really listen to what the other person is saying, instead of formulating your response. Ask for clarification to avoid misunderstandings. At that moment, the person speaking to you should be the most important person in your life. Another important point is to have one conversation at a time. This means that if you are speaking to someone on the phone, do not respond to an email or send a text at the same time. The other person will know that she does not have your undivided attention.
Our previous experiences, beliefs, values, assumptions, judgments, and biases influence the quality of our listening. Whenever we listen to something, we evaluate what we are hearing and this, in turn, triggers our emotional reactions and our judgment. If we hear something that contradicts our values or our interests, we tend to react, by becoming defensive; our ability to be effective listeners is hostage of our own filters. Therefore, our capacity to build meaningful relations, even with the people closest to us, our ability to lead effectively, to make a positive contribution, is negatively affected.
Becoming aware of the barriers to an effective communication that lay deep within ourselves is a first and necessary step to become great listeners. We need to become aware of how our life experiences, gender, race, social status, education level, religion, failures, and fears can affect our ability to listen deeply to another party.
There is no conflict transformation, no resolution, unless there is a change in the dynamic of communication. Unless there is such a shift, individuals are not able to bond, to reframe their problems and to explore possible solutions.
Transformation begins with the capacity to listen to ourselves. How you see yourself, and the communication you project to the world, will shift the moment you get in touch with who you really are. Remember: self-observation is self-healing.
Eric Faria is a Communication and Synergy Specialist, Podcaster, Speaker and Columnist. He produces and hosts the TV Show I AM with Eric Faria, available on YouTube. The show is also a podcast on Apple Podcasts and SoundCloud. To contact him, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.