The Importance of Reflective Listening

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There’s a lot of difference between listening and hearing.

G.K. Chesterton

When A Tree Falls In The Forest And There’s No One To Hear, Does It Still Make A Sound?

We hear with our ears, we listen with our minds. Sounds produces waves that cause our eardrum to vibrate. Small bones in the middle ear carry this vibration to our inner ear. The fluid of the cochlea moves and causes hair cells to transmit signals up the auditory nerve to the brain. When those signals arrive, our mind either ignores or interprets its message. It is at this moment listening can occur.

The Art of Listening

Listening is not understanding the words of the question asked, listening is understanding why the question was asked in the first place.

Simon Sinek

Listening encompasses much more than the act of processing sounds. It requires the listener to observe body language, facial expressions, and movements, and, to integrate knowledge about the speaker. The strongest type of listening involves the heart. This creates the opportunity to perceive not just the what, but the why of the words spoken. When you understand why someone says what they say, you are engaging in true communication. Knowing the why of what someone is saying very often leads to the asking of more questions, thereby creating even greater understanding. This is a powerful basis for trust, which is an essential ingredient for success.

 An Act of Bravery

Listening is being prepared to be changed by what you are hearing.

Rosalind Wiseman

It’s very common to enter a conversation with set ideas. When you seek to hear why someone is saying what they are saying, you are opening yourself to new understandings. You are risking letting go of any preconceived ideas that you may have had about them. This can be an uncomfortable place to be, but is well worth the investment. Invite new information and allow it to shape your responses. If you find it difficult in conversations to adjust your thinking right away, plan to respond with ‘I’d like to think this over and get back to you.’ It takes time and practice to become comfortable with this fluidity.

Listening Builds Relationships

Listening, not imitation, may be the sincerest form of flattery.

Dr Joyce Brothers

Another way to say this is that listening tells the speaker that you respect them. It doesn’t require you to agree with everything they have to say, but it helps to create a mutually respectful relationship. This is the basis for building successful relationships, which are essential for our own ultimate success.



PS – What’s your listening style? Have you practiced the art of listening in your relationships? What is the biggest obstacle to success in listening?

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