The Missing Ingredient In Listening

In one ear and out the other.

It’s a common cliche’ of a critique where a conversation (or perhaps a monologue) ends with one person feeling like the other didn’t listen.

They heard you. They nodded their head in affirmation. They even recited back to you word for word what you just said. But listening did not take place.

What was missing was the one element that moves hearing into the realm of listening. It’s called teachability.

Think about it. You don’t want to simply be heard like background noise on a busy street. You want to be understood. You don’t just want to be acknowledged in the minutes for having spoken. You want to make a contribution that matters.

That’s why the best listeners, the ones with more than good listening skills, approach a conversation with a learner’s lean. They don’t simply try to hear the words, they try to grasp the meaning.

Things like eye contact, leaning forward, focusing on a person (and not your cell phone), and looking at non-verbals are more than posturing, they’re tools that aid in the quest for understanding.

It’s not enough to simply hear someone. There’s a lot of loud voices out there scrambling for attention.

Listen to learn.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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2 thoughts on “The Missing Ingredient In Listening

  1. Tim,
    You hit the nail on the head on this one.
    It is what I refer to as listening and comprehending. If you cannot comprehend what you just heard then you were not listening.
    Or the other thing I like to say is that you listened but you didn’t hear.

    When I give my lecture on networking (face to face) that it is about the conversation and the hardest part is the listening side. I spend time on the art of listening and using feedback until both sides are in agreement as to what was said. It avoids conjectures and assumptions.