Listening to Understand

“The biggest communication problem is we do not listen to understand. We listen to reply.” – Unknown.

What do you do when you are listening to someone? Are you waiting for the person to stop talking so you can talk about your own ideas and opinions? Or do you pause your own inner thoughts to focus on the speaker? Most of us listen to reply and if we’ve already formulated what we want to say in response, it is highly unlikely that you have fully listened to the speaker. I’m betting most of us also know what it feels like to not be listened to. For example, you just finished telling your partner about your stressful day and how you’re not sure about how you want to handle a certain situation, and then he/she immediately starts talking about their own stressful day. It doesn’t feel good does it? Most of us have been in both positions. Let’s be more mindful about listening to understand, not to just reply.