Usually, when someone else is speaking, the tendency is for our minds to drift off the subject. Try to practice this listening process. Krisco (1997) described the listening process in this manner:
- You’re listening, and then your mind and attention begin to wander.
- After a while, you catch yourself out to lunch-not paying attention.
- You check in to see what is going on.
- You make a quick decision whether or not to listen. And if you do-
- You begin listening again.
There is a big difference between the way you were initially listening, than when you begin to listen after you catch yourself. After you check in, you will usually begin to listen more intensely and effectively. Whenever you manage your
listening, you usually end up a more powerful and effective listener.
Other than catching yourself, you need to practice affirmative listening. This process is not just about making eye contact, nodding, asking questions or parroting what you are hearing. Your attention can drift off and still be able to do this with a bit of practice. While reactive listening shows you are listening to something, affirmative listening is about listening for something — listening for possibility (Krisco, 1997).Reactive listening says, “I already know this.” On the other hand, affirmative listening says, “I don’t know this.” Do you see the difference in what this could do in increasing the level of information and meaning you register? As a leader, you need to master listening because this could open for you new possibilities. You need to tap every resource that you can get your hands on. The most valuable resources out there include ideas, suggestions, innovations, and creativity from other people. Many great ideas, suggestions, and breakthroughs are lost in listening. Once you understand the importance of genuine listening, you can make a shift in yourself, and in the way you listen to
It is actually you (not just your listening) that is not an empty vessel. That is, you are not only not an empty vessel for what you hear, but you are not an empty vessel for any aspect of your perception of whatever you are dealing with. That is to say, you are not an undistorted mirror of life (observer or discerner of life) – or more precisely, you are not an undistorted interpreter of life. (Werner etal., p. 52)
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