Thursday, December 10, 2009

Listening With Your Eyes Wide Open

10 December 2009. Jel's Rant And Rave

My blog post today discusses communication, and the amazing amount of people who do not know how to communicate. Oh yes; I can hear you saying “Yes I do; I’m a great talker.” Well, that is exactly the point of this article. 

Most people believe communication is about the words they use. I’m about to burst that bubble; good communication begins with a person knowing how to listen and learning to read the speakers body language. This is what I mean when I say: "Listening with your eyes wide open." 

There is nothing worse than when you are speaking to someone, you pause to take a breath and they say “Yes, but.” You can almost guarantee that every word you've said has not been heard and your so-called listener is waiting for you to pause so they can butt in. Grrrrr! This frustrates the hell out of me.

Communication is eighty percent body language; yes that’s right; body language. A person’s tone of voice counts for about twelve percent and the words spoken add up to eight percent of what's needed for good communication. So in a nutshell, the words we speak and how we say them are NOT the most important things. Some of us are great talkers, witty, charming and good at conversation, but we are only scoring about twenty out of one hundred when it comes to good communication.

When talking on the telephone there is no body language present; so using our ears to listen is very important. This is one reason why many experts once claimed that long distance relationships fail. There is no body language present. Computers and the Internet have changed all of that. It is now possible to have a face to face conversation when the person is miles away from us. 

Without face to face communication, it can be easy to misunderstand each other. When writing an email or letter, it is equally important to choose our words carefully, because it is so easy for the message to be misinterpreted. Expressing our point succinctly and clearly is very important when writing to someone or talking to them on the phone.

Given that body language accounts for eighty percent of communication, eye contact in a conversation is very important. We need to be looking at the speaker to really hear them. Paying attention to the speakers body language will not only help us to hear their words, it will give us clues about their emotional state and what they might be feeling.

Not making eye contact, or looking away all the time will make the speaker feel as though they are not being heard. They might also feel that we don't care for what they are sharing with us. Good communication will be lost. And, secondly, we cannot expect the other person to listen when it’s our turn to speak. A constructive conversation goes both ways.

Interrupting the speaker to put our two cents worth in is not okay, it fact it is downright rude. Asking a question about what they are saying is fine. They will be happy to pause to answer a question. Never use this as an excuse to interrupt. Having said all of this, it may be prudent and more polite to wait until the person has finished speaking to ask any questions.

Some people are so desperate to be heard they will constantly interrupt the speaker. This is rude and disrespects the person who is talking. It also speaks volumes about the listener’s level of respect for the speaker. 

Perhaps people who constantly need to be the one talking were never listened to as children, but that's no excuse. If we learn how to communicate effectively, the people we speak to on a regular basis will be happy to listen when we are talking.

Raising our voice or yelling to drown out the person who is talking is completely unacceptable. This achieves nothing. Some of us do not understand that once people start raising their voice or yelling, anyone who was listening will immediately switch off. So trying to drown someone out with our own thoughts is a pointless waste of energy. 

When people yell, we tend to feel intimidated or even threatened. When a person feels that kind of intimidation, they will automatically retreat, tune out the person yelling or walk away. When this kind of behaviour happens, the best things anyone can do is not engage with the person any further and if possible, walk away. The argument stops when only the person yelling is left without an audience.

I hope by writing this article, that I have given my readers a better understanding of how to communicate effectively. Following this advice will improve communication between people we encounter and those conversations will be richer and more enjoyable. 

Thanks for reading.

Now it's your turn, tell me what you think of the article above. Do you have any great tips when it comes to communicating with others? What about difficult people who simply will not shut up and listen to what being said? How do you handle these people?

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Copyright, 2009 Janelle Coulton