CONTACT Module 4 - Tune In - Active listening. 'T' in CONTACT

 

Hi everybody. This video is step 4 in CONTACT. 'T' in CONTACT stands for Tune in which is all about active listening. In step 1, I asked you to become conscious. Step 2 I asked you to Out yourself wisely to open the conversation.

Step 3 is to Notice the other person by asking about their HIP. Step 4 in a healthy communication process is to Tune in. To engage others, we need to pay attention so they see we are listening.

We want to understand them. We want them to feel what they are saying is important and recognized by us.  This module is about developing good listening skills. I’m going to give you 17 tips for developing healthy active listening skills. First an overview and then some details on each tip.

You’ll naturally be using many of these tips already. But when emotions run deep, the stakes are high and the conversation is important, we can be off balance and our good skills can go out the window. It takes awareness, know how, discipline and effort to get back on track in a crucial conversation and it’s good to have the lists for reminders.

  1. Zip it. Listen effectively.
  2. Snap on. Face the Speaker.
  3. Be attentive and stay relaxed. Stop doing anything else. Multitasking is a proven myth.
  4. Turn off the internal Chatter.
  5. Control your own high spiking emotions.
  6. Leave enough space between both of you.
  7. Open your body language.
  8. Get some eye contact.
  9. Keep an open mind. No two people think and feel exactly alike. Allow for difference.
  10. Be empathetic. Imagine their feeling.
  11. Pay attention to what isn't said—to nonverbal cues.
  12. Invoke your patience and practice silence.
  13. Avoid saying ‘I know’ allot. 
  14. Don't interrupt and impose your "solutions.“
  15. Wait for the speaker to pause and then ask if they’re finished, before speaking your case.
  16. Be a word detective.
  17. Learn to be okay with the silence.

Now some details.

Tip 1. Zip it. Listen attentively. God gave us two ears, two eyes and one mouth so we listen and observe twice as much as we speak. Imagine if God gave us two mouths with one ear and one eye. It would be ugly and life would be chaos.

Do you like to be interrupted before you’ve finished saying what you want? I don’t. It seems the other person isn’t showing respect or that he or she cares. ZIP it. Listen attentively.

Tip 2 Snap on. Snapping on means facing the speaker and getting eye contact to show you are listening. When you’re talking, do you like it when people look away, or at a computer or phone? How does it feel?  

Most of us don’t like it. We might feel unimportant or disrespected. Don’t do it. ZIP it and snap on, and show the other person you’re listening actively and that you care.

Tip 3. Be attentive and relaxed. Stop doing anything else. Multitasking is a proven myth. In communications, multitasking creates a road block. We can’t fully listen to someone and work on a computer or a phone. For time management, it’s not as efficient either.

We can’t do two things at the exact same time. The truth is we only do one thing at a time and there are times when we go back and forth very quickly doing one thing and then the next, and then back. We call that multitasking.

It’s a myth that its efficient. Here’s an exercise to demonstrate the fact. Write multitasking is a myth and then write the numbers 1 to 19 right underneath. Time yourself while doing it.

Then write the same statement and the corresponding numbers, alternating. M-1 U-2 L-3 etc until you finish the phrase and numbers. Time this as well. Pause the video, get a pen and paper and do it now.

Which method did you write faster? I was 47% faster on the 1st method.  If you can write out the 2nd method as fast, or faster than the 1st, you can multitask effectively. Most people can’t.

Multitasking is less efficient for time management and it’s a definite communications block in sensitive or important conversations.  When we are listening to two conversations, watching a TV., or looking at a computer screen, we ‘re not actively listening and giving the person the attention they deserve.

Do one thing at a time when you’re communicating in those crucial and important conversations, be attentive and listen when you’re supposed to be listening.

Tip 4. Turn off internal chatter. There are times when our internal talk overrides who we’ re listening too. It’s happened to me. There’s so much going on in my head that even though I’m looking at the other person, I wasn’t listening to them. I had to apologise and ask them to repeat themselves.

Has it happened to you? Has there been a time when you’ve haven’t heard what the other person is saying, even though you’re looking at them? Its because you were thinking about other things.

A good communicator and leader turns off the internal chatter and pays attention to the speaker so they take in and understand what he or she is saying.

Tip 5. Control your own high spiking emotions. Highly spiked emotions like anger or excitement are examples of what can make the task of listening difficult. When we are triggered with spiking emotions, our reason goes out the window or takes a big dive. It’s hard to listen to anyone.

Slowing down to acknowledge emotions is the 1st step to grounding them out. Taking a break from a conversation might also help. Reducing any emotion, positive or negative to an even keel, helps you and I get back on track with listening.

Apparently It takes 17 seconds to get control of a highly spiked emotion.  Try it the next time you’re triggered. See how long it takes you to reduce the spiked emotion. We get better with practice.  Get good at controlling your emotions. It helps with listening and good communications skills in general.

Tip 6. Leave enough space between both of you. People have a zone of comfort, and if I cross into that zone without a specific invitation, they may feel threatened. Do you like it when someone gets up in your face way too close for comfort?

People don’t like to feel crowded or invaded; in North America, we usually like about 18–30” space.  Give people their space.  

Tip 7. Open your body language. Keep your body open and relaxed, uncross your arms and legs. A relaxed open posture will help both people feel more open. Sit up, lean slightly forward, and nod appropriately. These gestures let others know we are interested in what they are saying.

Tip 8. Maintain some soft gentle eye contact throughout the conversation. Don’t stare and don’t look away too much. Soft eye contact  builds trust and confidence. Body language and eye contact are very important parts of effective listening!

Tip 9. Keep an open mind. No two people think and feel exactly alike. Allow for difference. Healthy communicating doesn’t mean we disregard our own feelings or judgments. It means we put them aside until we hear the other person’s full perspective.

Be focused on understanding not responding. Keeping my negative judgments to me, doesn’t have to hurt me, and it helps the situation way more often than it doesn’t. 

When I truly want people to open up to me, releasing any judgment, even if I don’t agree with the other person, shows in my body language and helps. Whatever a person says, matters to them, and people like to feel listened to and validated. Keep an open mind.

Tip 10. Be empathetic. Imagine what their feeling. Being empathetic is attempting to feel what the other person is feeling — walking in another person’s shoes. You may not feel what they’re feeling in this situation. But whatever feeling they’re having , you have felt it at some point.

If you haven’t had a child, and want to be empathetic to an expecting mother, imagine a time when you felt really excited about expecting something you really wanted. It’s in the understanding of the feeling of expectation combined with excitement, that you can be empathetic about and relate too.

If it seemed like it wasn’t a good situation, and you maybe sensed the woman didn’t want a baby, you could empathize by thinking about a time  when you knew something was coming your way and you didn’t want it to come, but had to figure out a way to deal with it, no matter what. 

Relate to the feelings they’re having and validate them. That’s what being empathetic means. They see you’re empathetic in your body language, facial expression and hear it in your tone when you’ve imagined a similar feeling.

Even just speaking a short interpretation of their feelings, in an asking tone, without sharing the details of what you did to invoke the same feeling, often helps put the other person at ease.

You might say: Wow, must be really exciting? Or wow, Must be hard. You might share a story about someone else experiencing the same thing to show that you understand. Be empathetic by validating other people’s feelings in some way. 

Tip 11. Pay attention to what isn't said — to nonverbal cues. Sometimes people say one thing and their body language shows another. If you sense there’s more to the story than what’s being shared, make a mental note, or a real note, and ask about it later when it’s your turn to talk. 

Tip 12. Invoke your patience. Patience plays an important role in effective communication! Get good at it. Search inside for a genuine desire to listen and make sure you get all the information. It will show in your posture. Make sure you and the other person have enough time too. We don’t want to come across as rushed or impatient. 

Tip 13. Avoid saying ‘I know’ allot.  Often we don’t know that we don’t know, and even when we do know, it can be irritating for others to hear ‘I know’ often. The truth is, until clarification happens; you may or may not truly know another persons’ full meaning.

Saying I know, shows your internal chatter is more prominent than your listening, and can easily turn off the other person. Sometimes it’s because they don’t believe you know.  Be patient. Let them finish. Remember the listening phase of a conversation means giving complete attention to the speaker.

Tip 14. Don't interrupt and impose your "solutions“ too fast. Practice letting others’ finish talking, before giving any response. Be patient.  Do you like to be interrupted before you finish what you’re saying?

You could use a system like making a mental note or having a note pad to write down important thoughts that are triggered while you’re listening so you don’t forget what you want to respond with. When we don’t interject with our own concerns and experiences too soon, it allows gentle flow of the interaction.

Sometimes people pause but they’re not finished. Being patient while another person gathers their thoughts to finish what they want to say, may create periods of silence that are uncomfortable at first, but people will sense a desire to listen, which is a good thing, and they’ll appreciate the connection.

Tip 15 Wait for the speaker to pause, and then ask if they’re finished, before speaking your case. When they’re finished you can go to step 5 in CONTACT and begin affirming what you heard. It’s Called reflective listening. And I’ll talk about it in the next module.

Tip 16. Be a word detective when you’re listening. If you need to engage someone difficult, Leil Lowndes says “be a word detective” listen for clues — words that tell you the other person has interest in a particular subject, and then ask about that subject. People love to talk about themselves and the things they like or love.

 Tip 17 Learn to be okay with silence. Sometimes people need time to think and process, without being interrupted, before they share everything. Give them the time they need.

Trust the other person’s capacity to work out their thoughts and feelings, make decisions and maybe find solutions, until they tell you they can’t. Take the time to process and allow silence, when you need to, too.

Sometimes silence can be difficult. It can be uncomfortable when it goes for long periods of time.  In effective communications, periods of silence happen. Get used to them and embrace them. Every so often, you could practice being nothing but silent in group discussions. Just listen. It’s a good habit building experience.

I once heard that in negotiations or sales, when things go silent, whoever breaks the silence and speaks first, looses. Practice getting comfortable with silence and letting the other person break it.

It’s amazing what we get to hear when we become good listeners and communicators. One of the bonuses for being a good listener is our own growth and maturity. We grow more by watching and listening than we do by talking about ourselves.

Lets recap Tuning in and active listening

Zip it. Listen effectively.

Face the Speaker. Snap on.

Be attentive and stay relaxed. Stop doing anything else.

Turn off the internal Chatter.

Control your own high spiking emotions.

Leave enough space between both of you.

Open your body language.

Get some eye contact.

Keep an open mind. No two people think and feel exactly alike. Allow for difference.

Be empathetic. Imagine their feeling.

Pay attention to what isn't said—to nonverbal cues.

Invoke your patience and practice silence.

Avoid saying ‘I know’ allot. 

Don't interrupt and impose your "solutions.“

Wait for the speaker to pause and then ask if they’re finished, before speaking your case.

Be a word detective.

Learn to be okay with the silence.

Practice these 17 tips and get good at tuning in and active listening, so your communications partner feels heard and understood. Becoming a good questioner and listener are very important parts of becoming a great communicator and leader.

After actively listening, we go to the next step in CONTACT of Affirming, also called reflective listening to make sure we get it right.

Thanks for watching. Go out and make it an awesome day. Like this video if you like it. See you in the next one. By for now.

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