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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 March 25, 2020

How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)

How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)

Habits are hard to kill, and rightly so. They are a part and parcel of your personality traits and mold your character.

However, habits are not always something over-the-top and quirky enough to get noticed. Think of subtle habits like tapping fingers when you are nervous and humming songs while you drive. These are nothing but ingrained habits that you may not realize easily.

Just take a few minutes and think of something specific that you do all the time. You will notice how it has become a habit for you without any explicit realization. Everything you do on a daily basis starting with your morning routine, lunch preferences to exercise routines are all habits.

Habits mostly form from life experiences and certain observed behaviors, not all of them are healthy. Habitual smoking can be dangerous to your health. Similarly, a habit could also make you lose out on enjoying something to its best – like how some people just cannot stop swaying their bodies when delivering a speech.

Thus, there could be a few habits that you would want to change about yourself. But changing habits is not as easy as it seems.

In this article, you will learn why it isn’t easy to build new habits, and how to change habits.

What Makes It Hard To Change A Habit?

To want to change a particular habit means to change something very fundamental about your behavior.[1] Hence, it’s necessary to understand how habits actually form and why they are so difficult to actually get out of.

The Biology

Habits form in a place what we call the subconscious mind in our brain.[2]

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Our brains have two modes of operation. The first one is an automatic pilot kind of system that is fast and works on reflexes often. It is what we call the subconscious part. This is the part that is associated with everything that comes naturally to you.

The second mode is the conscious mode where every action and decision is well thought out and follows a controlled way of thinking.

A fine example to distinguish both would be to consider yourself learning to drive or play an instrument. For the first time you try learning, you think before every movement you make. But once you have got the hang of it, you might drive without applying much thought into it.

Both systems work together in our brains at all times. When a habit is formed, it moves from the conscious part to the subconscious making it difficult to control.

So, the key idea in deconstructing a habit is to go from the subconscious to the conscious.

Another thing you have to understand about habits is that they can be conscious or hidden.

Conscious habits are those that require active input from your side. For instance, if you stop setting your alarm in the morning, you will stop waking up at the same time.

Hidden habits, on the other hand, are habits that we do without realizing. These make up the majority of our habits and we wouldn’t even know them until someone pointed them out. So the first difficulty in breaking these habits is to actually identify them. As they are internalized, they need a lot of attention to detail for self-identification. That’s not all.

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Habits can be physical, social, and mental, energy-based and even be particular to productivity. Understanding them is necessary to know why they are difficult to break and what can be done about them.

The Psychology

Habits get engraved into our memories depending on the way we think, feel and act over a particular period of time. The procedural part of memory deals with habit formation and studies have observed that various types of conditioning of behavior could affect your habit formations.

Classical conditioning or pavlovian conditioning is when you start associating a memory with reality.[3] A dog that associates ringing bell to food will start salivating. The same external stimuli such as the sound of church bells can make a person want to pray.

Operant conditioning is when experience and the feelings associated with it form a habit.[4] By encouraging or discouraging an act, individuals could either make it a habit or stop doing it.

Observational learning is another way habits could take form. A child may start walking the same way their parent does.

What Can You Do To Change a Habit?

Sure, habits are hard to control but it is not impossible. With a few tips and hard-driven dedication, you can surely get over your nasty habits.

Here are some ways that make use of psychological findings to help you:

1. Identify Your Habits

As mentioned earlier, habits can be quite subtle and hidden from your view. You have to bring your subconscious habits to an aware state of mind. You could do it by self-observation or by asking your friends or family to point out the habit for your sake.

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2. Find out the Impact of Your Habit

Every habit produces an effect – either physical or mental. Find out what exactly it is doing to you. Does it help you relieve stress or does it give you some pain relief?

It could be anything simple. Sometimes biting your nails could be calming your nerves. Understanding the effect of a habit is necessary to control it.

3. Apply Logic

You don’t need to be force-fed with wisdom and advice to know what an unhealthy habit could do to you.

Late-night binge-watching just before an important presentation is not going to help you. Take a moment and apply your own wisdom and logic to control your seemingly nastily habits.

4. Choose an Alternative

As I said, every habit induces some feeling. So, it could be quite difficult to get over it unless you find something else that can replace it. It can be a simple non-harming new habit that you can cultivate to get over a bad habit.

Say you have the habit of banging your head hard when you are angry. That’s going to be bad for you. Instead, the next time you are angry, just take a deep breath and count to 10. Or maybe start imagining yourself on a luxury yacht. Just think of something that will work for you.

5. Remove Triggers

Get rid of items and situations that can trigger your bad habit.

Stay away from smoke breaks if you are trying to quit it. Remove all those candy bars from the fridge if you want to control your sweet cravings.

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6. Visualize Change

Our brains can be trained to forget a habit if we start visualizing the change. Serious visualization is retained and helps as a motivator in breaking the habit loop.

For instance, to replace your habit of waking up late, visualize yourself waking up early and enjoying the early morning jog every day. By continuing this, you would naturally feel better to wake up early and do your new hobby.

7. Avoid Negative Talks and Thinking

Just as how our brain is trained to accept a change in habit, continuous negative talk and thinking could hamper your efforts put into breaking a habit.

Believe you can get out of it and assert yourself the same.

Final Thoughts

Changing habits isn’t easy, so do not expect an overnight change!

Habits took a long time to form. It could take a while to completely break out of it. You will have to accept that sometimes you may falter in your efforts. Don’t let negativity seep in when it seems hard. Keep going at it slowly and steadily.

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Featured photo credit: Mel via unsplash.com

Reference

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