Do you want to have better people skills? When it comes to interpersonal skills, there is one thing that is so simple, yet takes concentration to accomplish. It is obvious, yet very few people try it. It makes all the difference in the world, yet very few people are good at it.
Do you know what it is yet?
I can answer in one word. That word is
I thought I was good at this when I was a teenager because I was very shy, and didn’t always fully participate in the conversation. I’ve learned that being quiet does not necessarily mean you are listening. Then there is the other direction of constantly talking about yourself. That’s obviously not right either. These are both extremes to the desired “listening”, but I think everyone naturally leans one way or the other. We all have to make an effort in order to really listen.
Listening means you are really paying attention to the subtle cues that others give, asking them questions, focusing on them when they are talking, then responding accordingly. In order to listen to someone else, you cannot be thinking about yourself. It is a subtle, and selfless action. Yes, I would call it an action. Its highly unlikely for someone to be fully listening, unless it is a purposeful action.
My church has a program set up for the women, where we are each assigned to a few other women in the congregation. We have a partner, and we go visit each person to which we are assigned. We become friends, we learn if they are having struggles, and try to help. We also bring a religious message, and usually have a discussion on that message. It is a fabulous program, and when done right, results in strong friendships, opportunities to serve others, and to receive help when we need it. When Henry got his surgery, I had meals brought to us, and offers to watch my older child. Both services were from women who visit me, and also other friends within the neighborhood.
As I was doing my visiting today, I was trying to make an active attempt to listen. In doing so, I felt that I had made a much better connection, and strengthened our friendships. I learned more about them, and how I can help. Listening made all the difference between a fake assigned relationship, to a meaningful, personal friendship.
Most people can tell when someone is being genuine or sincere. When you listen, you show that you genuinely care about that person, and what they have to say. It’s OK to pause and think about what you want to say next, rather than thinking of it while they are talking. We could all benefit from practicing this important skill. None of us are perfect at it, but as we continually strive to be better, our relationships with others will improve.
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