Although from the 90s, the lyrics of Angelic’s song are even more powerful today. They go like this: “Human nature is out speaking each other, but then we face the danger, of only listening to ourselves.” The entire song is about not losing your voice – being brave enough to not be bullied or told what to think or feel.
Here we are in 2021, and we haven’t improved our communication but, in fact, have gone backwards. We have lost the emotional intelligence that allows us to think beyond ourselves and truly listen to one another. To coin a phrase from Frank Reagan, “how sad for you.” The cautionary tale is if you continue to talk louder and over everyone else in an attempt to drown out other’s opinions that vary from yours, you will be isolated and alone. You will be talking to yourself.
In all my years of corporate experience, I’d say the number one need is communication. It may manifest itself as poor time management, lack of priorities or an array of other things, but the root cause is most surely poor communication. The good news is we can choose to be better today, and we can be the start of building bridges to better ways of interacting with one another. Emotional intelligence can be raised!
The art of listening takes effort, but thankfully we have been given two ears and only one mouth. A trick I use when I need to pay attention and really listen to someone is putting a straw in my mouth and sipping my drink slowly. It allows me to focus on them but gives me something to do that keeps my mouth shut!
The difficult part is keeping the brain engaged on what is being said and not planning what you will say next. No one likes to feel like you don’t care about them, and you can show it by asking questions that dig deeper into what they said. “How big was that snake?” Too often, people don’t acknowledge what was said and jump in with their story, “Oh yeah, you think that was bad…let me tell you about ME!”
Swapping stories can be fun, but always finish and conclude one before jumping into the other. Sometimes you may not get your turn and that should be okay because our objective should not be for us to be heard but rather for us to understand others. Just imagine, if we all approached communication with an intent to learn more about each other, hear the heart of the message…what a difference that would make!
Practice listening every chance you get. Want to really enhance your relationships and succeed at all you do? Get a copy of my Leveraging Your Communication Style book and start adapting your communication to meet the needs of others. I’m also available for communication coaching because every role and position on the planet requires us to communicate.