“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” – Stephen R. Covey
Listening is not a passive activity. It takes effort to really listen.
This isn’t surprising since our brains work much faster than our mouths! Back in 1957 Nichols and Stevens wrote a paper in the Harvard Business Review and identified “…the basic problem with listening is that we can all think faster than we talk. The human mouth plods along at 125 words per minute, while a neuron can fire about 200 times a second.” No wonder the brain is usually racing ahead. It takes some effort to keep the brain from running off in all directions while you are listening.
I think most of the time I listen and guess where the conversation is going. Sometimes I’m already forming a retort and interrupt the speaker. Do you do that?
I’ve been experimenting with the concept of listening without knowing the the answer. It is amazing what I hear and the openness that I’ve experienced to new ideas.
Some ideas to try if you want to listen better to help you slow down your brain to the speed of the spoken words.
- Try getting really interested in what you are hearing. Be really curious. You have no idea what you might hear.
- Try not to judge what you are hearing. You may think you agree or disagree but you won’t know until you have listened fully.
- Don’t try and form and answer. Make this a two step process…listen and then reply based on what you have just heard not some pre-conceived idea.
Practice it and let me know your experiences!