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90% of People Are Poor Listeners. Are You the Remaining 10%?

90% of People Are Poor Listeners. Are You the Remaining 10%?

So, if we show you two photos, one of Miley Cyrus and the other of Justin Bieber, two celebrities who are remarkably and androgynously alike, you would be able to tell who is who and make a correct identification, right? Now if only life was so easy that it let you spot the good egg, from the bad one – be it as a partner, a friend or even the choice of a job or a house.

Basically, life offers us many challenges and while it’s relatively easy to pass judgment on others, we very often err while self-introspecting. Most of us don’t consider listening as big an art as talking and because of this, a lot of us would call ourselves good listeners. But is that really true? Are we good listeners at all?

Identifying Good Listening vs. Bad Listening

So, do you think that you are a good listener? Well then, let’s check these identifying mannerisms of good listening vs. bad listening and check where we all can stand to improve…

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Hidden Meaning vs. Literal Meaning

A lot of communication lies in the tone and emotional cues, as well as the body language of the talker – and not just the words. To be an effective listener, you need to take in the literal meaning of course, but also read in between the lines. Listen for the tone, for the emotion in the voice, and look for the non-verbal cues as well. Empathize with the talker, find common points and ask questions if you need answers.[1]

Understanding vs. Gaining Information

We may often listen to get answers to a question. But effective listening goes hand in hand with understanding, and not just with the intent of gaining information. Many times, when we ask pointed questions, we skim-listen to the reply but don’t really understand the situation and stop listening after we think we have got the answer. You may look as if you are attentive and getting in every word but frankly your mind is wandering and you’re not really in the situation at all…[2]

Asking for Clarifications vs. Making Assumptions

Good listening means that you ask questions when you have a doubt, and not make any assumptions about the issues. Don’t let your thoughts or doubts come into the picture, and don’t let any of that color the current conversation. Clarify, once, twice or thrice even if you have to, to make sure all your doubts are cleared by the correct person and not just by your presumptions.[3]

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Listening to Digest vs. Listening to Respond

So many times it happens that we listen to something, only to be able to respond to it. Rather, while the other person is still talking – we stop listening and begin to formulate our reply – and often miss so much of what we were supposed to listen to, process and understand. Stephen R Covey right said, “Most people listen with the intent to respond, not with the intent to understand.” If your mind is moving ahead to the response and not listening, well, you lose out.[4]

Letting the Speaker Finish vs. Interrupting the Speaker

We may not always agree with what is being said, and may even have valid counterpoints – but all of us need to have the manners and the patience to let the talker finish first. Interrupting the talker, speaking out of turn and just generally being ill-mannered will make you miss out on listening and understanding the point being made as well as disturb the rest of the audience’s listening. Let the speaker finish, and then politely intercede to make your point.[5]

Boldly Agree To Disagree vs. Bow Down To Authority

Conversely, not speaking up when you strongly feel different will also go against effective listening. Listening to it not just hearing – it’s about hearing, then understanding and processing the thing you have heard, and finally forming an opinion about it. If you have patiently listened to and understood all that was being said and have a very strong point or interjection to make – you must speak up. Bowing down to authority at this point will make you harbor a lingering resentment towards yourself, yet again making you miss the rest of the talk or conversation since your emotions come into play. Once the speaker has finished, stand up and make your point boldly – you many agree to disagree at the end but at least you have said your piece.[6]

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Consistently Listen to One Topic Vs. Getting Bored Too Easily

As much as it is good for a speaker to be able to talk about one topic consistently and interestingly, it is even better for a listener to be able to listen about the same topic with full concentration. Only if you listen to what is being said with full concentration will you be able to glean the gist of it all.[7]

Listening With an Open Mind vs. Listening With Too Firm a Belief

To listen and listen well, you have to have an open mind to what is being said, even if it is going against your core beliefs. Like we mentioned above, you can choose to hear out the speaker patiently and then speak up or counter-argue the point you cannot digest – but at least listen with an open mind. You might end up learning something new after all.[8]

Listening With Fair Balance & Empathy vs. Listening Judgmentally

We very often tend to view the world with colored glasses – often shaded in hues of our beliefs, prejudices, and resentments. When we are listening to someone, we should listen not only with an open mind but also an open heart and keep our judgments and belief system aside. Do not start taking what is being said as an affront or insult – the person who is talking has a right to his own beliefs. Listen fairly, let the person finish and then if you want, you can choose to make your own point – without trash talking the speaker in turn.[9]

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Show Interest in the Speaker vs. Appear Bored & Tired of the Speaker

The person addressing the audience – be they experienced talkers or newbies – has a certain set of trepidation and wants to make sure that the audience is interested in what they have to say. If you appear bored, listless and distracted while they are talking – you are not only reducing their morale but also curbing their speaking enthusiasm and affecting your own listening skills as well. Be active, be alert and be interested in what they are saying to get the best out of them and your listening skills as well.[10]

Paying Attention to Key Meaning vs. Missing the Meaning of It All

Many people hear everything sometimes, but miss the meaning of it all but not paying attention to the key points, being too busy analyzing every little thing, formulating their own replies, getting blinded by the speaker’s charm, making notes etc… There will be times the speaker will verbally or physical emphasize a few things – pay attention to the meaning behind it all instead of focusing on the decoration…[11]

Making Sure the Understanding is Correct vs. Letting Confusion Mar the Listening

Finally, as we have been stressing – the difference between hearing and listening lies in the understanding of things. Make sure you have grasped everything that is being said, raise your hand and ask pointed questions if need be and only then move on to the next point. Hearing everything and understanding only a little means your listening wasn’t up to the mark at all.[12]

So pay attention to what is being said and concentrate on the meaning of the words instead of just hearing them – switch off those phones and keep micro-conversations at bay. Hear and understand for effective listening…

Reference

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Rima Pundir

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Last Updated on October 15, 2018

How to Calm Down When You Are Overwhelmed: 7 Quick Ways to Try

How to Calm Down When You Are Overwhelmed: 7 Quick Ways to Try

Do you sometimes feel that you add items to your to-do list faster than you tick them off? Do you spend most of your day worrying about your lack of time?

The truth is, no matter how much we love our job, or how productive we believe we are under stress, there comes a moment when the pressure rises above boiling point. The sheer number of urgent tasks multiplies in a geometric progression. New possibilities no longer sound inspiring, they sound overwhelming and equal more work.

If that’s where you are right now – keep reading! If not, it doesn’t mean you should wait until you get there to learn how to cope with a demanding work schedule and how to calm yourself down quickly when you feel overwhelmed.

Here are 7 quick and easy tips on how to calm down when you are overwhelmed:

1. Let go of a few activities

Yes, it’s that easy! Take a look at your to-do list and ask yourself, “If I don’t do it today, will it matter a month from now?”

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Not every urgent task is important. Just like not every important, high pay-off task is urgent. The best way to keep yourself from getting overwhelmed and to manage your time is to know the difference between the two and learn to simplify your life by getting your to-do list down to three big tasks.

2. Take deep breaths to calm down

This advice sounds so simple it’s often overlooked. But it works better (and faster) than any other relaxation technique out there.

There is a direct connection between our emotional state and breathing. An anxious, frustrated or overwhelmed person breathes as if they have just finished running a marathon. A calm person breathes differently. Their breathing is deep, slow and steady. So when you have a panic attack, the best way to bring your heart rate down and to regain your cool is to change your breathing.

Try this now:

Take a slow, long deep breath in, filling your lungs with air and expanding your diaphragm. Hold your breath for four counts and then slowly release the air through your mouth. Repeat four times and notice frustration and the feeling of being overwhelmed dissolve with each long exhale of these calming breaths.

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3. Make “Just one thing” your mantra

When we feel overwhelmed by the amount of tasks on our to-do list, it’s easy to enter the ‘deer in the headlights’ state. You see deadlines approaching directly towards you, and you know that something has to be done about them, but you just don’t know where to start.

The best way to get your mind out of an ‘inactivity trance’ is to create momentum. This is what makes the “Just one thing” mantra so powerful. It helps to change our expectation that everything has to be completed right now, “or else.”

Next time you feel overwhelmed make grabbing a cup of coffee your “Just one thing.” You can do it, right? Then come back, pick one of the smallest tasks on your to-do list and tell yourself you’ll do just that one task. This is your next “Just one thing” that you will concentrate on until it’s complete. After that you can move on to the next task and so on.

It’s not “One thing at a time.” Saying this implies that there is a huge line of other tasks waiting to get done and that’s not the message you want to keep repeating to yourself. Learn how to focus here and stop getting overwhelmed.

4. Reduce the multi-tasking and multi-thinking

It’s been proven that multi-tasking is very inefficient, to the point of dumbing us down (more than smoking marijuana does). The same is true for multi-thinking, when your mind frantically jumps from one thought to another, trying to focus on and analyze several things all at once.

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Fortunately, there is help. A few minutes of meditation or brainwave music is all it takes to start feeling more relaxed, more creative and less overwhelmed.

5. Get moving

Any exercise you engage in – be it walking or dancing to your favorite beat – helps to release endorphins, the ‘feel-good’ hormones, through your body and to clear your mind.

Staying active also increases your productivity, enhances your ability to combat stress and anxiety. It also helps you to release the tension, boosting your mood and changing the thoughts that induce the sense of being overwhelmed.

The best part is you don’t have to spend hours in the gym to get the mind-soothing benefits of exercise. Even as little as 15 minutes of dancing or jogging can go a long way towards making you feel better and staying calmer.

6. Change your surroundings

We all need and deserve to take vacations from work woes and family responsibilities. Unfortunately, spending two weeks lazing on a beach, toes in the sand and a Mojito in hand, is not always an option. However, this doesn’t mean that we can’t take short ‘vacations’ from work stress and the technology buzz.

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Go outside for a few minutes and enjoy the sunshine. Stop at a park instead of driving straight home from work. Sometimes changing your surroundings and ‘spicing up your routine’ is all it takes to change your perspective on things and find creative solutions to seemingly complex and overwhelming problems.

7. Get some pet therapy

Studies have shown what most of us already guessed – our pets can be a great help during stressful moments. Simple actions such as petting or playing with your dog or cat can lower high blood pressure, boost your immune system and boost your mood.

Besides, pets can make the best conversation partners to share your frustrations with. They listen, they love you unconditionally and they never talk back or say, “I told you so.”

Final thoughts

Don’t wait for stress to hit you to start practicing these quick ways to calm down when you are overwhelmed. The best way to enjoy a worry-free life is not to push yourself to the limit of being overwhelmed and frustrated.

Featured photo credit: Dardan via unsplash.com

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