THE BLOG
10/17/2013 04:46 pm ET | Updated Jan 23, 2014

Why Have We Stopped Listening?

Half of everyone complains that the other half isn't listening. And those accused of not listening are complaining that they are not being heard.

Why have we stopped listening?

Maybe because we are largely preoccupied with our own struggles, worries, problems, projects, grudges, hopes, dreams and agendas that we don't make the time to listen to what and who is important to us.

Maybe because the idea of listening is so central to our human existence, so basic, that we don't ever feel we need to work on it. But it's like any other skill. It takes practice, focus and commitment.

Whether you're engaged with a co-worker, a family member, a friend or running a corporation or business, make it important to start listening.

Here are some core elements to becoming a better listener:

Suspend Judgment: Listening is not about us answering, voicing or judging. It's about us suspending our thoughts, judgments and prejudices. It is about being a witness with another for what they are saying.

Listening is not a luxury it is a necessity. (Click to Tweet.)

Pay Attention: Listening takes a genuine interest in what is being said. It takes consideration and desire. True listening starts with a sincere wish to pay attention, to make the other person feel acknowledged.

Engage Empathy: Listening is being alert to the emotional content that underlies someone's words. It means listening without being in a hurry to interrupt or take over. It requires us to feel WITH and think ABOUT what the speaker is thinking or feeling without intercepting.

Bypass Assumptions: Listening is having an understanding attitude, which entails bypassing our own assumptions, memories, desires and opinions. True listening invites us to stay open to what is being conveyed.

Compelling Concentrate: Listening is a give and take process but it takes concentration, the best way to get someone to listen is for you is to make the other persons feel listened to first. Take the time to genuinely concentrate on the other.

It takes two to make a connection. One to speak and one to listen. (Click to Tweet).

Stop Fixing: Listening to another does not mean you have to take responsibility and to fix the situation. We don't need advice as much as we need a willing ear, someone who allows us to clarify our own thoughts and make our own decisions.

Freedom of Expectations: Listening means giving up our expectations of what we'd like to be hearing. It frees us, and frees the person we're listening to. You don't have to agree in order to acknowledge that someone has a point.

Listening to another person can be just as rewarding as being heard. When we truly listen, we bridge the gap between another and ourselves.

When we listen, we tend to judge less, have fewer preconceptions and we get closer to the extent of our wisdom.

When we acknowledge that we have lots to learn about listening we will become better equipped to hear others.

"Listening is among the greatest of favors," says an old proverb. Listening speaks to the heart.

Where in your life, leadership and living can you become a better listener?

Who have you stopped listening to that needs your attention?

Listening is the gift that we all crave and want, and one that we are all equipped to give and get.

© 2013 Lolly Daskal. All rights reserved.