Without practice, we are losing our ability to listen thoughtfully. We are surrounded by noise and distractions, and perhaps nowhere more so than in our own heads.
We can’t listen to others if we cannot even listen to ourselves. Thoughtful listening is active listening. And active listening is just that; it’s active.
Active listening requires practice and it involves the whole body. From our head to our toes. The brain is attentive. The eyes are looking. The ears are listening. The mouth is quiet. The heart is open. Hands are idle and the feet are still.
When in the last 24 – 48 hours have you experienced this kind of listening? Sadly, active listening is not commonplace in our culture. In fact, by and large, there are a number of myths and misconceptions about active listening.
6 Myth and Misconceptions About Active Listening
Hearing is the same as active listening:
Hearing is physiological. It enables us to hear and interpret sound. Active listening is a conscious act of focusing on the words spoken and putting them into context to form an understanding.
Listening is easy and requires little energy:
Active listeners are subject to the same physiological changes as a person jogging.
The ability to hear determines the ability to actively listen:
The two happen in two different places. Hearing happens in the ears. Listening happens between the ears.
Smart people listen better:
There is no link between IQ and active listening. EQ is actually a better indicator because it measures a person’s likelihood to consider the emotional needs of others.
I’m already a good active listener:
You might be surprised. People tend to overestimate their own listening abilities. Even those who are trained in active listening. Active listening is not an innate skill. It’s a skill that requires regular practice.
It’s hard to learn how to listen actively:
The hardest part is probably the self-discipline that is involved in putting someone else ahead of ourselves.
Every day presents us with opportunities to practice our active listening skills. It is a skill well worth practicing because it is key to effective working and personal relationships.
Want to improve your active listening skills? Check out this short 1 minute video with tips on how to become a good listener.