Have you ever spent time at the shore watching the tide push in and pull back again?
It’s a passive activity that lulls you into a near-hypnotic state of relaxation. After a while, the overpowering sound from the relentless ebb and flow of water becomes mere white noise. Constant, without discernible distinct sounds, you become unaware of it.
The everyday-ness of chattering children, conversations with your spouse, friends, customers, direct reports or your boss can take on that same white noise quality – unbroken, unyielding and indistinguishable.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
When you listen with intention, you actively process and interpret the information you are given. You listen for what’s important or relevant and maintain your focus on the conversation. You make a mental note of what you don’t understand and when given the opportunity to speak, you ask questions that clarify. You seek to understand the meaning behind the words.
When you listen with intention, you’re able to filter out those things that distract your attention – poor grammar or language skills, accents, your own agenda, and other sounds or activities nearby. You listen for the main idea and the key points. You use the extra mental capacity you have to summarize, anticipate, and formulate questions based on what you hear. You don’t use that capacity to think about other things or to prepare your own answer.
When you listen with intention, you not only understand more, you remember more.
Most importantly, when you listen with intention, you connect with the other person.
Life Is Honest, Open and True: Today, take time to focus on what is really being said and notice how listening with intention brings you closer to people important to you.