Updated: Mar 7
We're back! Shout out to any new guests, we're happy to have you! If you haven't read through Waypoint 1 and Waypoint 2, go check them out! Lastly, if you haven't subscribed to my website, be sure to do so.
So, here we go...Waypoint 3 - Active Listening!
People often begin forming a response instead of listening to others. Active listening requires taking time to receive and process what is said, to better understand the intended message. Time, patience, and undivided attention are crucial elements of success. Acknowledge their words and seek clarity to avoid misunderstandings.
Huh? What was that, honey? Did you say something?
Ah, yes, the age old argument that begins with, "are you listening to me?" My friend DeAnna Beasley has first-hand experience she was gracious enough to share, to provide insight into the challenges we all experience in our relationships throughout life. DeAnna is a Human Resources and Customer Service Professional who loves teaching, mentoring, and serving others.
When most people think of active listening, they believe it’s simple. They think: Of course, I actively listen. Doesn’t everyone. They engage in conversation, provide responses, and give verbal and nonverbal gestures. ✅ I too, thought like most people for the majority of my life. The transitional turn in perspective came when it was time to recall some important conversations, and I could not. Why? Because I wasn’t actively listening.
So, let me break down for you my perspective of what is key to active listening? Active listening is being present in the moment. It’s directing your focus and full attention to the conversation at hand. Not only hearing the information, but being able to process and recall the info discussed in the moment and later. Later is key. Thanks to technology and the busyness of modern western life, it is easy to get caught up in multitasking which can be a distraction preventing active listening.
Thanks to my 18-year Air Force career, I have become a queen of multitasking, but I have come to realize that multitasking and active listening do not mix. Multitasking is good for handling multiple tasks that do not require a lot of direct mental focus or active engagement with others. An example of this is cooking dinner, swapping laundry, sorting the mail and checking text messages. Sounds like a lot, but in my life, this is my norm. Trying to add a serious conversation with my husband that requires active listening, is no simple feat. I have tried this several times and have failed. This does not mean the conversation is not important to me, but I have come to realize that my mental focus is directed towards my physical movements, and I am unable to process the conversation. This gave my husband the impression I do not care about the conversation. Wrong! I do care.
This has led me to understand I need to stop multitasking during important and difficult conversations. Give my full attention to the person I’m communicating with and be ready to respond in a manner that says I’m listening and I care. To also help I have shared this struggle with my inner circle (friends and family) and asked them to let me know when they need my full attention so I can stop multitasking and focus to be engaged in the moment. You know, actively listen.
I’m saying all of this to say I have not mastered active listening, but to share that I’m a work in progress and hopefully my journey will help you start or continue your own. Now, if you have mastered active listening, Bravo! Unfortunately, that is not my testimony...yet! No one is perfect and change is inevitable. It is challenging to change the way you operate, when you have operated a certain way for most of your life. Change is difficult, but not impossible. Regardless, personal growth is about acknowledging where you are and making changes to be better. Personal growth benefits your relationships and active listening is a key component to successful and lasting relationships.
Cheers to growth!
Click HERE for a fantastic article on practicing Active Listening in your relationships and different environments. You won't find it in the dictionary, but you can learn and grow!
Keep learning, and growing, friends! See you at Waypoint 4 - Empathy.