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People Who Can Understand Things Quickly Are Not Gifted, They Just Know How to Listen

People Who Can Understand Things Quickly Are Not Gifted, They Just Know How to Listen

We all change our “technique” when needed… Using different strategies while playing any kind of sport to better counteract our opponents, being a different kind of parent to our children of different ages and even speak differently to different people to get their attention back to us…

And yet, knowing very well that we need to keep changing ourselves to better adapt to the situation, we don’t really change our listening technique at all. Despite being in different situations, we sit back and listen, the way we always do. There’s a lot of difference in listening to a speech, an interactive talk, a lecture, a song, a stand-up show – but do we really use our listening differently to better adapt to these different situations? Frankly, the answer is likely to be a no, and the mismatch is as evident as is beer served in a wine glass!

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The solution: Change our modes of listening, to better suit the different occasions.

You Can Truly Understand What Is Being Said When You Can Switch Your Listening Modes Properly

Different “speaking” situations demand that we adapt to them by using different listening techniques. A simple example of this would be three very different situations we often face in office – that of getting a directive from our seniors, attending a training module or having a luncheon conversation with colleagues. All three situations demand that we use different listening techniques for we have to remember the first one, learn from the second and empathize with the third. So then, the three most commonly used listening types are:

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Informative Listening

When you listen to learn something or collect information from – this is called informational or informative listening. This kind of listening holds true in many diverse situations – attending a lecture or training module, listening to the news or a documentary, asking and then listening to the answer of a question you have, listening to an asked-for recipe… Diverse situations but all of these have a commonality – you are paying attention to what is being said and basically listening to something that is giving your information that you want, need or deem necessary. [1]

  • For informative listening, switch off those wandering thoughts and keep those distractions away. Listen to the words and try and remember as much of them as you can. You are basically downloading a set of directives or directions – so listen, understand and retain as much of it as you can.
  • Informative listening can also be called active or attentive listening – where you consciously direct all your attention to the speaker and listen to the words being said.

Critical Listening

Critical listening is not listening with a critical or jaundiced view, rather, it’s the next step in learning where you evaluate and scrutinize all that is being said and figure how much of it holds true in different contexts and how much of it have you truly understood. This is also the time to raise your doubts and ask your questions, once the speaker has finished his talk, so as to truly understand what is being said.

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Examples of this are instructional and educational talks, lectures and courses, conversations with doctors, technical experts and much more… The end idea is to learn and remember for future use.[2]

  • To be in a critical listening mode, you have to be attentive and listen to all that the speaker is saying and also try and read between the lines, instead of talking the words on just a literal scale. Make notes if you want, and make sure to raise your hand and ask those questions at the end – you have to be clear on the understanding and comprehension of all you listened to. You can also choose to digress from or argue a point if you disagree about something.
  • Critical Listening is often also synonymous with deep or reflective listening where you listen to more than just the words, and then think about all that you have understood or not, trying to glean as much as you can through introspection and doubt clarification.

Empathetic Listening

This is akin to lending your shoulder for someone to cry on – empathetic listening exists purely as friendly shoulder where you listen to and feel from the place the speaker is coming from so as to commiserate, empathize or even help the speaker in any way you can. While this is used in relationships be it family, friends or lovers – empathetic listening is also employed by professionals such as therapists, doctors or even lawyers where they listen to their clients’ tale of woes with an open ear and a friendly expression to better get to the root of the problem.

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Good marketing and sales professionals also employ this tactic to better understand their clients’ need and provide them with tailor-made solutions.[3]

  • For empathetic listening, you have to listen to more than just what is being said – the body language, the emotions behind the words all come into play for you to truly understand all that the speaker is trying to make you envisage. Imagine yourself in the speaker’s place and you will begin to understand the situation in better detail – for you to help the speaker as you can, as a professional or simply as a friend.
  • Relationship listening (where attentive listening happens due to an active interest in maintaining or furthering a relationship), sympathetic listening (where you share the pain of the speaker), dialogic listening (where you enter into a conversation to really understand the speaker better) and therapeutic listening (where you listen and try to offer help or advice, mostly a professional caregiver) all come under empathetic listening.

So there you have it, the way we use different tools to crack different hardware, or even use different cutlery to eat different cuisine – similarly when it comes to listening, we need to use different skills and techniques to better listen and understand what is being said.

Reference

[1] AU: Types of Listening
[2] Work 911: Listen Critically
[3] Beyond Intractability: Empathic Listening

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Published on April 16, 2019

How Self Care Can Help You Live Your Best Life

How Self Care Can Help You Live Your Best Life

When was the last time you did something for yourself?

Whether it was deciding to treat yourself with a little something or travel for some R&R, how often do you practice self-care?

Well, as good as above sounds, there’s a common misconception that many of us have about self-care: that it’s only about indulgence and enjoyment.

However, self-care goes far beyond indulgence. It’s actually about respecting your mind and body, understanding its limits, and being able to take care of every part of yourself, in a holistic way.

And, you really don’t have to go to extreme measures or do anything specific–like meditating or following a plant based diet–in order to practice self-care. You just have to make sure that what you’re doing is in your best interests.

So how can you make that happen?

Below are a few proven methods that will help you become a better version of you. Follow through with these regularly and you’ll be well on your way to living your very best life.

Listen to Yourself

The bulk of self-care is knowing yourself.

This means knowing your body’s limitations, and being in tune with your feelings, emotions and thoughts. So it’s important, then, to know who you are and what you want to do in life, in order to truly say that you know yourself. 

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What is your purpose?

Have you ever thought about this question?

Your purpose doesn’t have to remain the same throughout your life. What you found a purpose in at age 19 would likely be different at age 49.

In your current situation, think about the different roles that you have – as a working professional, a spouse, a partner, a parent, etc.

Do you feel like you are fulfilling your purpose through any of these roles?

All you have to do is ensure that what you’re chasing is meaningful to you; this will bring focus and motivation as you strive to achieve your goals.

If you have your purpose defined, then that’s awesome! You know what drives you and why.

But, if you don’t feel like you have a purpose nailed down, it’s good to start by asking why.

For example, why are you working in your particular job or industry? If the reason is vague or unclear, then your motivational energy will be the same. In which case, you may find yourself not having a direction for where you’re headed in life.

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If you’d like to learn more about finding your purpose, then I recommend you check out this article:

How to Get Motivated and Be Happy Every Day When You Wake Up

Seek Out Continuous Education

Now, this may seem less common when you think of self-care, but lifelong learning is incredibly useful and an important component of taking care of yourself.

It’s Super Practical

Lifelong learning is extremely practical these days and does not require as much effort as it may have in the past. Long gone are the days when you could only find information on something by visiting a library. In this day of the internet, anything you can imagine is at your fingertips.

You don’t need to physically go to a learning institution to learn. You can watch Youtube videos to learn new skills, take online courses to earn a degree, and scroll through an endless amount of articles, books and journals from reputable news and informative sites.

When you’re constantly pushing yourself to learn and take up new things, your mental health also improves. Research shows that an active and engaged mind is responsible for diminishing age-related memory loss and improves overall cognitive abilities.

Your Confidence Will Skyrocket

You’ll also have improved self worth as it teaches you to step outside of your comfort zone, which will undoubtedly improve your confidence.

You’ll also connect better with others by expanding your knowledge base. Learning exposes you to a multitude of new ideas and perspectives that you may have otherwise never considered. This also increases your adaptability. Whether it’s at work or just wanting to adapt to society, your peers, and loved ones, life long learning prepares you to take on new challenges.

You’ll Be More Desired in the Job Market

Another obvious reason for continuous education, is that your employability will also increase.

With the ever changing economy, and huge influences from technology, social media, science etc., job descriptions today are moving targets. Assignments and roles change so quickly in response to changing business demands, it becomes a Herculean task to keep a job description database current.

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In years past, stability was a characteristic of the world of work. Procedures, information, jobs, and organizations were established and provided continuity. Education was completed in the first 14 to 22 years of one’s life, followed by a long career occasionally punctuated by short-term job training.

Today, however, jobs, companies, and technology are disappearing and being created simultaneously. To remain current and maintain a competitive advantage in the human capital marketplace, an individual is challenged to continually learn.

People return to school at every age to enrich their skills and knowledge for their current positions. Some even prepare themselves for new jobs or career changes, moving them forward into new opportunities and technology.

We can be assured that we will be challenged to continue to learn new tasks and information throughout our lives. Successful careers belong to flexible, curious learners who are prepared for opportunities because they know themselves and where they make their best contribution. As Peter Drucker, the father of modern management stated,

“Knowledge is choice.”

Lifelong learning also increases social awareness and perspective. To genuinely understand and empathize with others, increase social awareness, and foster strong interpersonal relationships, it’s important to seek out new perspectives. Enhancing the skills that positively impact emotional intelligence can bring even greater happiness and success, both personally and at work; and, this is all part of self-care.

Improve Your Habits (Both at Work and at Home)

Now, the last piece of advice I want to introduce to your self-care regimen, is to improve your habits.

Habits define who you are, and are built up over time. You are what you eat is a great example of this. If you make it a habit to eat foods that nourish your body, rather than make your body feel bad, then you will be much healthier overall.

Good Habits Allow You to Reach Your Goals

Since habits dictate your days and nights, such as waking up every morning to get to work before a certain time, or brushing your teeth before bedtime every night, they play a major role in whether we do or do not reach our goals.

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When you form habits that allow you to progress towards your goals, you’re automatically living a purposeful day, everyday.

Habits Make Your Time a Priority

How do you spend your free time? Do you opt to lounge on the couch watching Netflix passively, or do you engage in activities that support your purpose in life?

It’s natural to waste a lot of time during the day, but fostering good habits will make you set a pattern for how you spend your time and give you the choice of what you choose to spend your time on. By improving your habits, you’ll find that you can be a LOT more productive. When you create good habits, you become more efficient with your time and a lot less is wasted.

This in essence creates an overall positive influence on your life, allowing you to treat your mind and body well, which is why improving your habits are so important to self-care.

Your Well Being Comes First

We live in such a fast-paced society, where we are often so caught up in our work, families, maintaining our social lives, our studies and everything in between. It’s an understatement to say that life can get a little overwhelming at times.

If you’ve ever watched the safety video onboard a plane, you’ll know that they always ask for a parent or adult to put on the safety mask first, before tending to the child. This may sound selfish, but the fact is that if you truly want to ensure the child’s safety, then your safety needs to come first so that you can protect and care for the child without complications from your end.

The same goes for self-care. We need to ensure that our well being is priority, so that we can be the best for the people around us.

Listening to yourself, practicing lifelong learning and improving your habits are steps that you can take to ensure you’re constantly in the best state of mind, alongside the indulgence and rest that you reward yourself with.

Featured photo credit: Photo by Raychan on Unsplash via unsplash.com

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