There is one aspect of active listening which often earns less attention – listening to our own words and being perceptive of our own behavior. It is not difficult to understand why this is the case; after all, a whole branch of science was created around introspection and the subsequent discoveries of psychology.
We often get so focused on what other people say or do, so that we completely overlook our own influence and role in communication. Although some of us “blend out” better than others, it is unlikely that we would remain objective – no matter how broad a definition you can dig up.
Listening exercise: Untilt
Being open to our own reactions and taking notice of the words we use is crucial to the success of what we talked about in the prelude to this article. There is no way to keep marking milestones in a dialog without being able to summarize your own position and actions. Think of it like this – if communication is a game, summing up what has happened so far is keeping score. Now think of how hard players on both teams in football (soccer) try to make every situation look like they are entitled to a better score.
Listening to what you say also provides an important checkpoint in most conversations. If your work requires a certain level of vagueness in your approach, then over time you are more prone to go over the top. Listening would provide a natural brake. To turn the tables, I will just say it – sometimes you are the pushy sales person and people will start avoiding you.
If you think that the mentioned aspect of active listening is over-rated, please view these classifications of a writer’s style. Almost the same nuances can be found in our daily conversations – no matter how frequent or extraordinary.
I have read a few articles on how to be mindful and aware of the moment yet there is no single recipe for getting it right. What I have found to be useful – I prefer short mental breaks often as this keeps me perceptive to clichés I use; over-reaching leads me to a level of vagueness making me laugh out loud; brainstorming with the team to make sure I never go sci-fi in an email.
Surely you must have developed your own way of staying grounded, so please let me know in the comments’ section. As written above, I am a fan of brainstorming.