Listening. It’s easy right? We hear sounds around us, all day, every day. But how often are we truly listening? As babies, it is the first sense we develop, even before we’re born. We begin hearing sounds when we’re in the womb. So you’d think we’d be pretty good at it by now. But are we?
Reflect on the quality of your listening. Prior to training as a coach, I considered myself a good listener; I was there for my friends and family, I listened to my team members’ and colleagues’ worries. But all these years, have I just been preoccupied with what I was going to say in that moment? Did I just want to offer advice based on my experience? Guilty!
So often in situations, rather than listening to what is being said, you’re distracted by your own thoughts of what you want to say, to offer your advice on a similar issue or to ask more questions before the other person has finished speaking. Why do we think that what we have to say is more important than what they are trying to share?
Most of the time we hear, but we are not listening. When a friend calls for a chat, how often are you doing something else at the same time - taking that as an opportunity to multi-task and do two things at the same time?
When a colleague comes into your office for advice, are you really hearing what they say or are you distracted with thinking about all the other things you should be getting on with?
When someone talks, are you subconsciously going through a to-do list in your head, making judgements or daydreaming? When your partner is trying to chat with you, are you ‘listening’ whilst watching TV or scrolling at the same time?
“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Stephen R. Covey
As friends, partners, colleagues and managers, one of the greatest skills we can offer it to listen to those around us. Becoming aware of how you listen is insightful in itself and I challenge you to notice where your head is at when you’re next in conversation with someone. Are you paying attention or are you waiting to speak up?
Gemma Brown is an associate certified coach with the International Coach Federation, working with people to navigate successfully through transitions - be it career, relationships or life in general. Her belief is that when we confidently bring our whole selves to all areas of life, anything is possible. Transitions exist in both our personal and business life, and so often, the two fiercely overlap. Coaching with Gemma focuses on you as a whole, enabling you to identify your strengths, build confidence and to live a life with increased purpose and direction. Gemma is based in Cambridgeshire and carries out face to face coaching in the area as well as 1-2-1 coaching via Skype and Zoom. For more about Gemma, visit her 'About' page or contact her directly.