Mark Twain said,” There are two kinds of people in the world: one kind separates people into two kinds of people and the other kind doesn’t.”
I’m definitely the kind that separates people into two kinds of people.
I think there’s people who listen to respond or reply, and the other kind who listen to understand and connect.
If you think about the people you feel closest to in life, I’d bet they are excellent listeners.
Listening creates a sense of understanding and connection that is extremely powerful.
If you want to be a better listener, here are two tips.
First, put yourself in a “listening mindset.” Prepare yourself to listen to another person. Be conscious and focused in that moment to do that.
It’s similar to what Judge Judy calls being in “receiving mode.”
I’m conscious that I’m preparing myself to pay attention to the person who is talking to me.
The second tip is to clear out “mind trash” … the thoughts that pop into your head while someone else is talking. Mind trash happens when a thought comes to mind triggered by something the other person is saying. For example, they mention being worried about a medical test result they are expecting, and you realize it’s been a while since your last physical exam.
It could also be unrelated to what they’re saying. They might be talking to you and you suddenly remember something you have to do or think about something unrelated to them. This happens to even the most attentive listeners.
How do you deal with mind trash? When those thoughts pop into your head that would interfere with you focusing or listening, just allow them to pass out of your mind. And then refocus on the person who is speaking.
I think you’ll find that when you focus and attend to the things other people are saying, it creates stronger bonds with other people because it’s so powerful.
Question: What are your own tips for more focused and effective listening?