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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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Last Updated on October 17, 2018

7 Natural (And Highly Effective) Ways to Improve Memory

7 Natural (And Highly Effective) Ways to Improve Memory

How is your memory? Is your cognitive function as strong as you’d like it to be?

If not, then you’re definitely going to be interested in the memory improvement tips I’ll be sharing with you in this article.

Despite what you might think – or have been told – improving your ability to recall information is certainly possible. You just need to know the right ways to do it. (Don’t worry, as you won’t need to make any significant lifestyle changes.)

So how to improve memory? Let’s dive straight into the first of seven easy ways to improve your memory significantly.

1. Meditate

We live in a world of non-stop, 24/7 information. It’s like a waterfall that’s endlessly pouring news, data, facts and figures into our conscious minds.

Unfortunately, our brains are not designed to absorb this tremendous amount of information. It’s no wonder then, that most people struggle to remember information and recall things.

Even if you believe you have a good memory and are comfortable with multi-tasking, you’ll also be aware that there’s only so much information your brain can process at one time. And research suggests that the more information and distractions, the harder it is for you to transfer information to your long-term memory.[1]

Fortunately, meditation can help you out.

Even if you just meditate for 10 minutes per day, you’ll boost your ability to focus, which in turn, will make it easier for you to remember important facts.

If you need help in shifting into a meditative state, I recommend trying an app like Headspace – which can assist you to achieve this in a convenient and structured way.

And don’t forget, meditation doesn’t just have to be closing your eyes and sitting in a lotus position. Some people prefer to simply take a short walk in nature. This clears and calms their mind, and still provides the all-important boost to their focus.

2. Get plenty of sleep

If you’re sleep deprived or have not been sleeping well, then I’m guessing you’re not remembering well either. This is because sleep and memory are intimately connected.

If you have a busy life and regularly find yourself not getting enough sleep, then this will negatively impact your cognitive abilities – including your memory.

How much sleep should you be getting?

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Well, according to the National Sleep Foundation, you need a minimum of seven to nine hours of sleep per night. If you get this amount of sleep regularly, then within just a few days, you’ll see a tangible improvement to your ability to remember and recall things.

Now, I’ll be honest with you, maintaining a proper sleep cycle is not always easy (especially when the latest Netflix series has just been released!). But if you care about improving your short-term and long-term ability to remember things, then it’s critical that you try to get at least the recommended amount of sleep every night.

Are there ways to hack the sleep cycle?

Yes, there are.

Try these three things:

  • Have a fixed bedtime (preferably before 10pm)
  • Don’t eat too late
  • Make sure your bedroom is as dark as possible

Sleeping is a precious activity. It regenerates your body, clears your mind, and helps with the storing and retrieval of information.

However, don’t sleep just yet, as I want to tell you about another great way to increase memory…

3. Challenge your brain

When was the last time you challenged your brain?

I don’t mean challenged in the sense of overeating or undersleeping. I’m referring to stretching your mental capabilities through things like crossword puzzles, Sudoku and memory games.

To expand your memory bank, and to make your recall razor-sharp, you need to continually challenge your brain.

Feedback from Lifehack readers such as yourself, has suggested that brain training apps are a super-effective way of doing this. Used regularly, these apps can enhance your focus, attention span, problem-thinking ability and memory.

There are hundreds of these apps available (most of them for free), but I recommend starting out with one of the big three:

  • Peak (Android/iOS, free, 10 million+ downloads)
  • Lumosity (Android/iOS, free, 10 million+ downloads)
  • Elevate (Android/iOS, free, 5 million+ downloads)

If you normally spend a chunk of your week playing computer games, then instead of shooting and killing your enemies, why not let some of them live – while you put your attention into boosting your brain power!

Challenging your brain will strengthen your neural pathways and enhance your mental abilities. But don’t just take my word for it, try one of the apps above and see the positive benefits for yourself.

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4. Take more breaks

When I think back to my days as a budding entrepreneur, I distinctively remember working all the hours under the sun – and many under the moon too!

At that time, I believed that breaks were for the weak, and to become wealthy and successful, I needed to shed blood, sweat and tears.

However, I was wrong.

Taking regular breaks is the best way to keep yourself productive, creative and alive to opportunities. It’s also the best way to learn new information.

Let me explain.

Typically, when studying lots of new information, most people will spend hours reading it – in an attempt to learn and remember the content as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, they’ve overlooked something.

Namely, extended study sessions are rarely a good thing, as your ability to retain information naturally declines after a certain period of time.

It’s similar to physical exercise. You wouldn’t attempt to train vigorously for four hours in a row. Instead, you’d take regular breaks to give your lungs, heart and muscles adequate time to recover. Failing to do this will result in muscle cramps and overexertion.

It’s the same with your brain. If you overload it with information, you’ll suffer from mental fatigue.

What’s the answer?

Make sure you take regular breaks when learning new information. I recommend at least a 10-minute break every hour. (You may also want to take a look at the Pomodoro Method.)

If you don’t want to be as regimented as that, then take breaks as soon as you find yourself losing the ability to focus on the new material. Your brain will thank you – and your learning aptitude will move up a level.

5. Learn a new skill

I love this quote, as it’s 100% true – but frequently overlooked:

“Learning never exhausts the mind.” – Leonardo da Vinci

From my experience of helping to develop the careers of dozens of Lifehack employees, I can definitively say that participating in meaningful and purposeful activities stimulates the mind. It also reduces stress and enhances health and well-being.

Let me give you an example of this:

Imagine you work for a global financial institution in one of their call centers. You take over 100 calls a day – many of them complaints. When you started the job a few months back, you were excited to be in full-time employment and working for a household name.

Unfortunately, your initial enthusiasm quickly turned into frustration.

The endless complaint calls began to take their toll on you. And the supervisors irritated you too, as they were far too interested in micro-managing you – rather than letting you work in your own way.

Now, in the story above, the ending could be that you put up with a job you didn’t like, and led a dull and frustrated working life for years and years. However, an alternative ending is this: you channeled your dissatisfaction in to learning a new skill (computer coding). It took you a year or two to get up to speed, but it allowed you to successfully upgrade your career – and the ongoing learning made the call centre job much more bearable.

Clearly, learning new skills gives you impetus, focus and something to aim for. Your brain loves to learn, and you should tap into this by always seeking our new information. And when learning becomes a habit, you’ll find your ability to remember and recall things effortlessly, becomes a habit too.

6. Start working out

If you’re not already working out regularly, then here’s another reason to do so:

Exercising for 20-30 minutes three times a week will improve your long-term memory.

Regular exercise increases blood flow in your body and supplies the brain with extra oxygen and nutrients. And a well-nourished brain is a well-functioning brain!

“But I just don’t have the time?,” I hear you say.

Not a problem.

A research has shown that a daily burst of 60 seconds of high-intensity exercise, offered many of the benefits of the longer exercise routines.[2] So, if you’re short on time – now you know what to do.

Interested in getting started?

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Here are five different ways that will help you work out:

  • Join a gym
  • Join a sports team
  • Buy a bike
  • Take up hiking
  • Dance to your favorite music

7. Eat healthier foods

I’m sure you’ve heard the expression: “You are what you eat.”

This applies to your brain too.

The food that you eat helps determine your brain’s capacity to store and recall information. A poor diet (think junk food + soda!) harms not just your physical health, but your mental health too.

Fortunately, there are several foods that are especially good for your brain and your memory. These include: blueberries, celery and dark chocolate. But anything high in antioxidants will have a positive effect on your brain and memory.

Conversely, highly-processed foods and those loaded with sugar will have a negative impact on your memory. This is due to them providing insufficient nutrients for your brain – leading you to easily suffer from mental fatigue.

Want to be mentally healthy? Then eat and drink an abundance of these for brain health:

  • Turmeric – helps new brain cells grown
  • Broccoli – protects the brain against damage
  • Nuts – improves memory
  • Green tea – enhances brain performance, memory and focus[3]
  • Fish oilfish oil supplements can increase your brain power

Here’re more brain food options that improve memory!

Final thoughts

I sincerely hope these seven memory boosting ways that I’ve covered in this article will be of help to you.

You don’t need to implement them all. I suggest just trying the ones that appeal to you.

But, if you’re serious about dramatically improving your memory, then make a start right now on adopting one or more of the ways I’ve suggested. I’m confident you won’t regret it.

Featured photo credit: Eric Ward via unsplash.com

Reference

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