In a time when communication technology has become more prevalent, active listening is ever more critical. According to a 2018 Nielsen Company report, the US average person spends approximately 10 hours and 39 minutes each day using smartphones, computers, video games, radios, tablets, and TVs. That number comes from 2018-We can only assume this number has and will continue growing with quarantine.
Spending a little under 1/2 of our days with our faces in a screen, typing to everyone, and no one, in particular, has an adverse effect on human connection and well-being. Humans lose humanity as social media, email, and text messages become intermediary of our words. We say things in ways behind that screen we would never say in person. Basically, we don’t talk, and when we do talk, we don’t know-how to convey our point. I get it, sometimes an emoji is a pretty succinct way of getting the point across. But, what about times when you need to say more? Communication is connection and should be valued as such. Without face-to-face interactions, we lose the beauty of poetic license and the art of conversation. We miss out on intimacy and stimulation. Things get lost in translation, and we tend to forget one of the most fundamental parts of being human is connecting in a real, meaningful, and impactful way. And of equal importance are the physiological and psychological effects, including the inability to pick up on social cues (source-Journal Computers in Human Behavior)
Active listening uses your brain and ears to hear with the intent to learn, connect, communicate, and/or be entertained. Listening is a critical component of any conversation, furthermore relationship. To be an active listener is to comprehend and let the speaker know you are not only receiving their words but are also understanding and empathizing with what they are saying. You may disagree, but you will hear them with your mind open and free from judgment or a preconceived attack.
Active listening is a coveted soft skill because people with people-skills get the most out of personal and professional life. Think about it, who do you most want to speak to, someone who listens and responds like they have some sense, or talks at you, around you and over you? You want to speak to someone who speaks back and adds something meaningful to the discussion.
Listening with intent and without prejudice will foster understanding, learning and promote higher emotional intelligence, and makes you a better conversationalist, and dare I say it, human.
When you have a shot at engaging in a meaningful or lively conversation, do so in a respectful, joyful, and productive manner. To develop your people skills try these active listening techniques for both face to face and online conversations.
Remember, mavens; practice makes progress. Practice active listening to enhance life and soft skills.