A World Without Racism Listens
Have you ever had a conversation with a friend or loved one and it feels as if they are checked out and not truly hearing what you are saying? This may be the result of the individual not actively listening. Active listening is defined as “the process of attending carefully to what a speaker is saying, involving such techniques as accurately paraphrasing the speaker’s remarks.” We often notice when someone is not actively listening to us when they are on their phone, dozing off into the distance, or it feels as if they are simply not tuned into the interaction. The difference between passive and active listening lies between hearing and truly understanding the message being expressed. In order for human beings to effectively communicate and feel heard, active listening is a must.
We see active listening represented in ways such as…
- Showing engaging body language: eye contact, facing the speaker, head nodding, leaning in, etc.
- When we utilize engaging body language it nonverbally communicates we are immersed in the current interaction, and this creates a more trusting environment for the individual sharing, which as a result, helps them feel heard and understood.
- Listening instead of interjecting with our own opinions and thoughts.
- When we interrupt someone who is sharing personal information and being vulnerable, this can deter them from further sharing or turning to you in the future, since they may not be receiving what they need or are looking for from the conversation. Oftentimes our friends and loved ones simply want a person who will listen and support them, instead of looking for advice or an outsider’s opinion.
- Show you are paying attention to what they are talking about by summarizing the thoughts and feelings which are being shared.
- Oftentimes a good way through which we can communicate to others that we are truly listening to what they are sharing is by briefly summarizing the information that is being exchanged with a few words. This serves as a confirmation for the sharer that you actually hear what they are saying, and in turn, can validate and create a sense of support between those within the conversation or interaction.
- Supporting and validating personal feelings and struggles.
- When we communicate that we are there to help and comfort our loved ones during times of struggle, this can foster an atmosphere of trust and support which in and of itself proves that this individual can confide in you by knowing you will be there for them.
Benefits of active listening include…
- Avoiding miscommunications
- By actively listening, particularly summarizing the information being shared, those involved in the conversation can tell if what is being shared and received is communicated in an accurate manner or not, therefore avoiding any confusion or miscommunication that may arise.
- Growing and strengthening relationships
- When all parties feel heard and understood this can result in the growth of the bond being created between two or more people. When we feel validated and accepted we begin to grow in trust, and as a result feel more comfortable and confident in the relationship itself.
- Increased efficiency
- By confirming what each individual is saying, miscommunication is avoided, and therefore a more efficient environment is created by preventing further discussion regarding instructions or critical information.
- Preventing conflict
- Similarly to increased efficiency and avoiding miscommunications, active listening can prevent conflict by ensuring that each person is understood, therefore bypassing any misinterpretations which could result in conflict or tension.
Through effort and mindfulness, anyone can master the skills of being an active listener and create more meaningful and efficient interactions!