A key factor in communication is the ability to listen.
Communication consists of a message exchanged between two partners – one partner is sending and the other one is receiving the message. It thus is easily understood that not taking advantage of the chance to receive a message also means failing in communication. Failing in communication means failing to be successful.
Sure, communication isn’t one sided, and it does help if the person speaking tries to use a language you can understand. Nevertheless, the listener also has a part in the communication which is his ability to receive and understand the message.
Listening means to keep the ears “wide open”, taking the time to hear what the other person is saying and more importantly to have the will and whish to understand. If you don’t understand what is being said – do question it. Ask for further explanations or details. Ask yourself what is making it difficult for you to understand or receive the message. This can be your clue to the right question to put forward to establish a working communication.
Sometimes it happens that you don’t believe that you’ll be able to understand – I remember how difficult it was for me as a kid to follow, when my mother tried to provide me with directions how to reach a specific place. Nowadays I know that I simply wasn’t willing to take the time to understand what she was saying or not willing to try to find the elements I could follow in her explanations. She had a different approach to the road and the way to describe how to take directions, approach which didn’t correspond to the language I needed. Even worse, this has in consequence affected my ability to follow directions from anybody else. Still, in the mean time I learned that adapting my mindset and asking questions would have helped me to receive the details I needed – which were different from the ones my mother was sharing.
Asking questions and especially the right ones would have spared me a lot of time – can you imagine how often I didn’t find my way?
Asking questions, paying more attention to her message would also have shown my respect, my affection and my attention. How do you feel, when people listen to you?
[Original publication via frogstalk.com, April 04, 2010]