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Listening Skills

More than half of communication has to do with listening. I say more than half because of the significant impact listening has on communication. If you are not a good listener you are not a good communicator. Understanding the blocks to good listening and how to overcome them is powerful information and can help you become a better listener.

Listening is a skill. It requires self discipline, compassion, and the realization that good listening always pays off. For one who does not listen well there can be several serious blocks to developing this skill.

The first block is simple arrogance. This arrogance comes from the underlying belief that what others have to say is of little or no importance. Such a person has the thought that nothing the other will say will benefit them so why waste time listening. If the other person speaks they may be thinking of how they want to respond instead of listening. They may interrupt often and/or talk on top of the other person. Such arrogance must be recognized in order to change. If you have this particular block to listening consider this: listening well opens the door to more genuine relationships.

The second block comes from simple nervous energy. I call this nervous reaction speeding. The non-listener cannot still himself long enough to listen. He feels nervous, anxious, and unsettled when they themselves are not talking. Silence makes them extremely uncomfortable. When the other is talking they may tune them out and think of other things. The will show signs of impatience such as shaking a foot or leg. If you have this particular problem then it would benefit you to recognize your nervous energy as a significant block to building healthy relationships.

The third block is simply the bad habit of not listening. This bad habit is most learned in childhood. These poor listening skills may have been role modeled by parents, teachers, or friends. Watching Mom or Dad interrupt each other, discount each other, or tune each other out teaches the child to do the same. These behaviors become automatic. If you have any of these behaviors it would be helpful to recognize them and change them.

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Here are suggestions on how to overcome these three blocks to listening. If you have the listening block caused by arrogance then you have perhaps the toughest block to break. Feelings of entitlement that are the corner stones of arrogance. If you feel you are somehow better than, know more than, or are wiser than others then you are going to justify your not listening patterns. Try this little exercise. Ask yourself where you learned to set yourself above others. When you remember you will probably realize that you were treated in the same way you treat others. Recognize how painful it was for you to be discounted. Once you do you will no longer wish to do that to others.

If you have the block of nervous energy then consider that your nervous energy may be your mind’s attempt at protecting you from feeling certain uncomfortable emotions. Hence, you speed. Your mind runs in fast gear in order to avoid feeling your feelings. Try this little exercise. Go within yourself and ask yourself what emotions you would be feeling if you were still and quiet. If you are being honest with yourself you would probably recognize emotions such as anger, sadness, shame, or fear. Once you have recognized these emotions you can ask yourself where they came from. You will probably find that they came from events and circumstances long ago. If necessary seek help in finding a way to release them.

If your listening skills suffer from simply bad habits then concentrate on slowing yourself down. Remember to respect others. Treat them as you would be treated. Listen to them as you would like to be listened to. You will be rewarded with a growing community of people who truly appreciates you.

No matter what your level of listening skills you can always hone them. Your relationships are the most important environment you have. Listening is one of the most powerful ways of establishing healthy, happy relationships. Become a consummate listener. You will reap positive results.

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