We all hear and we all listen but there is a big difference between the two in quality and quantity. When we hear, we hear words. When we are not paying attention, we hear sound. If we look attentive, we can often get away with not listening, but listening gives us and the person we are talking to something far greater.
When we listen, we listen for tone and inflection and we see expression. We pick up feelings and intent, especially if we listen well. We can even pick up when the words we hear are not sincere or heartfelt.
Listening is an art and a great skill,. If we learn to listen well, we can get to the heart of the matter. However, listening well does not mean that we automatically create a team approach or win-win solutions where both parties feel satisfied with the outcome. This takes a different skill, which is the ability to state our case and our truth and listen to the other person’s truth from their point of view. That means understanding why they feel the way they do. This does not mean that we agree or that we compromise. It means that we understand their position. Once we understand, we can then decide our next course of action.
If the person is fixed in their position and we are fixed in ours, we need to realize that this the reality and that we can not change them and more listening and speaking will probably not change things. If the person can come to terms that agree with our position and both parties feel understood and satisfied with the outcome, then we can create a win-win solution.
What is important is to know when to listen and when to speak up. It is not enough to listen and speak when both parties do not really hear each other. In fact, often one of the parties will shut down and not hear because they feel angry, hurt or intimidated. When shut down occurs, good communication is at a halt.
If we can open the lines of communication, putting our anger and hurt egos aside, outcomes can change for the better. We can then create results with calm and peace instead of with conflict and strife.