Recently, I ran across a scenario question. The question goes like this- I’ll paraphrase, two people need an orange, but there is only one orange available. How should they handle their situation?
Of course the obvious solution seems to give each one a half of the orange. But, not quite.
A better solution is to get an understanding of each other’s need. The reason- half of an orange will not meet the need of either. One person needs the orange to fill her cup of juice, and the other person needs to grate the orange rind for the Orange cake she is baking.
Without communication, both will fail to meet each other’s grated for the Orange cake and squeezed for the juice.
Simply asking to gain an understanding of the other’s need would provide a solution.
Months ago I wrote a blog post about the art of listening. Listening is an art, whether we realize listening is an art or not. A two-way conversation does not constitute you are understood or the other person is actually listening to you.
Too often we may find ourselves physically present in conversations, but we are not actively present in the moment. In actuality, we are often emotionally checked out of the conversation.
There is a distinct difference in listening and hearing. Listening with the intent to understand the context of the message is more than hearing audibly what a person is saying. Inasmuch as listening does not always involve understanding. For this reason, listening to understand is crucial. While listening, if you fail to gain an understanding, ask questions for clarification.
The next time you find yourself in a conversation try being present in the moment.
One of my favorite quotes of Stephen R. Corvey: “Most people do not listen with the intent to listen; they listen with the intent to reply”
Listening is paying attention to what another person is saying. But how do you listen? Do you listen to get an understanding of what the person is saying? Are you listening to respond to what the individual is saying? While I do not purport to be a listening expert there is a significant difference in how we listen.
Our listening style affects our communication or the way we communicate. Listening to understand is listening attentively to see what the individual is saying from his or her perspective. Listening to respond means you might not have an understanding of what the person is saying, you are waiting your turn to respond.
Say, you decide to listen to understand, then, what’s next? After you have obtained an understanding, you are better equipped to respond from a sound premise. You are aware what the individual’s intentions or thoughts are and now you can address them responsibly.
Attentively listening to understand avoids the dynamics of responding but not addressing the matters at hand. The individual speaking will not have to continue to repeat or clarify what he or she is saying. You may save the both of you from further frustration.
If you’re like me, you sometimes respond before the person is finished speaking. If so, then you have listened to respond. We’ve all been there. Listening actively to understand takes practice and a conscious effort. We all believe what we are saying is important. But, if you’re not listening to understand try exercising this type of listening. You may find understand what the individual mean instead of what you think you think you hear them saying.