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What if we listened more, seeking to understand?

We have 2 ears and 1 mouth so we should listen more than we talk, right?

I was getting labs done at OMC today and witnessed an irritable man loudly requesting to be seen immediately. He was swearing, yelling at the guy "looking at him", certainly causing a scene. I thought like im sure everyone else, "what's his problem?" But as I walked outside after, I saw him with an OMC employee (well done!), meant to de-escalate the situation talking with him. They made their way to the bench and as you can see, sat and listened, seeking to understand.

➡️WHAT IF WE ALL TRIED THAT? Listened first with compassion and empathy before offering any response?

We often ASSUME our friends or family would be good listeners and that are pretty darn good listeners ourselves, but are we?

Listening is a skill. Let me phrase that correctly, active, engaged listening is a skill that CAN be learned. Here are 5 little rules that can help make people feel heard and understood.

Pay Attention To Your Body Language

You may SEEM like you are engaged but your body language tells a much bigger story. Who wants to talk to a brick wall? No one. So why would anyone want to talk to a closed off, arms-crossed, wall of a person? A study was done on the importance of non verbal movements, signals and gestures are when it comes to the overall effectiveness of our communication in relaying our message to others and the found Words account for only 7%. Body language accounts for 55%! Simple things like making eye contact and smiling can make anyone feel more at ease.

Let them finish

Interruption is the conversational hang to the face. It's rude, insensitive and shows you aren't truly listening, you are just waiting to speak. There is nothing worse when you are spilling your heart out to someone, and they cut into what you are saying. "You cut me deep Shrek".

Don’t ever say that you have been in a worse situation

It's not a game. There are no winners. Whomever you are talking to is placing their trust and vulnerability in you. They need your help or your advice. They just wanted to feel validated and understood. Keeps your own stories and experiences for another day. It's not a competition.

Careful of your questions

Most questions could be considered "inquisitive" but some can be offensive. Questions can feel like an interview or interrogation but it can also open someone up. It can bring out comfort, understanding and connection. Things like "tell me more", "how did that make you feel" are questions that are used to do just that. Remember the questions are to add clarity or understand but should be kept minimal so you can go back to listening.

Stick that phone on silent

Distractions consume our lives these days. We think we are amazing "multi-taskers" but the truth is , we can't effectively focus on 2 things all that well without sacrifice. If you are invested in truly listening to someone and want to give them your time and attention, leave the phone in your pocket or purse.

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