We speak at a rate of about 150 words per minute (wpm). But we can hear at a rate of about 1,000 wpm. This gives us a lot of extra time! This seems to be the downfall of many and how well we do or don’t listen! So what happens with all that down time?
Your minds wander. Have you ever noticed that your mind is thinking about other things while someone is talking to you? The topic does not really interest you, or what they are saying is not pertinent to the conversation, so your mind begins to wander. “What am I going to make for dinner?” “Does this guy know that he has food stuck in his teeth?” “Boy, it is an awesome day today!” Practice giving full attention to the person who is talking to you.
Your eyes wander. This is a key piece that many people struggle with. As the discussion lingers, you tend to start to look at other things for stimulation, as the conversation is no longer doing it. Again, your brain is not filled with the 1,000 words it can process, so it will start to process other things on its own. Now, some people need to look away or up in the sky to think. This is different. After the person is done speaking, then you can, if you need to, look away to gather your thoughts, and build a reply. But try to keep your eyes on the person talking to you when they are speaking. It will vastly improve your listening skills.
Your non-verbal body language is telling a different story. Did you know that words are only 7 percent of our communication to others? Thirty eight percent of it is voice tone and 55 percent is body language. If we are not careful, our bodies will take over a conversation and overpower any words that we might be speaking, or listening to. Make sure that you sit in a way that shows no emotion. Listen with your entire body, not just your ears.
You finish someone’s sentence.Make sure that you do not finish other people’s sentences for them. This is an easy one for the mind to do. All too often, we think that we know the ending, so we want to finish for them, right? This is natural and needs practice to master this skill. It is okay for them to finish, and then you can reply. Silence in between people in communication is actually a good thing. The average person needs 8.2 seconds to hear something and build an intelligent response. The average person only allows 2.3 seconds for someone to respond, then they start back in. Slow down, count to eight and see how long that is…it is okay to have silence in your communication!
Hope this helps…try it today! If you’d like a copy of my 20 question listening test, please Contact Us.