Active listening is an essential part of good communication and one of the major pillars of our lives. It plays a key role in both our professional and personal relationships. If you are not actively listening to what the people in your life are saying, you are missing out on an important aspect of human relationships.
Many people don’t understand the difference between listening and active listening. They believe that if you are listening, you are listening, and if you are not, you are not. Right? Well, not entirely!
There is a difference between just hearing what someone is saying and actively listening to it. And this difference plays a key role in determining the quality of your relationships. So with this said, let’s understand what active listening is and why it is so important in your relationships!
Hearing And Listening Are Two Very Different Things
You must be wondering, what is active listening? Why is there a need to add an adjective to listening? Your confusion is totally valid! As human beings, we are not socialized to actively listen to others.
We simply know how to hear what others are saying. And we often use the words hearing and listening interchangeably. However, there is a difference between the two.
Hearing is not the same as listening. You can hear someone or something yet not “listen” to them. For example, think about the scenario when you are working on your computer and playing music simultaneously. You are aware that the music is there, and you can hear it in the back of your mind. However, are you understanding and following each of the lyrics? Are you concentrating on them? Probably not. Because you are engrossed in your work while the song continues to play in the background. This is what hearing is, in a nutshell.
Listening is something that takes your ability to hear several notches higher. The idea of listening is about tuning in to what is being said behind what you are hearing. It involves following and understanding every word someone is saying to you and what it means.
When you actively listen to someone, you can easily pick up on what a person is not saying because you are so in tune with what they are saying. And most of us are not trained to do this. Thus, active listening requires a lot of practice. It is a skill that you must bring to the table if you want to have successful and fulfilling relationships in your life.
Whether we are talking about romantic relationships, friendships, or professional ones, honing your ability to listen is essential for excelling in each of your relationships. It also helps you build mutual understanding and trust.
Active Listening Helps You Become A Better Communicator
When you start practicing active listening, you start seeing people differently. You start understanding them better. Because when you really listen to people, you pick up on what is behind the words they are saying. And since you can figure out the true meaning behind everybody’s words, it also makes it hard for people to lie to you.
Most people end up having heartaches in relationships because they don’t have the habit of actively listening to their partners. Everyone tells you the truth in one way or the other. All you need to do is listen to what is behind what they are saying. And this is where good communication comes into play.
Communication is the way we bring each other together. It helps you represent your realities and desires accurately and uncompromisingly. No one but you know what those things are. Thus, it is your responsibility to communicate those realities to other people.
Remember, as a listener, it is your responsibility to listen to others with an open mind free from judgments and bias. Always listen to others to understand what they are saying and not formulate your argument. If your sole purpose behind listening is to find loopholes in what a person was saying, you’ve got it all wrong! The purpose of active listening is to make you a better communicator and not to sharpen your arguing skills.
Effective communication, along with practicing active listening in relationships, empowers you to get what you want from others and enables you to give others what they want. It also brings a certain degree of intimacy and connection between people!
In This Grand Universe, All Of Us Are Voices That Want To Be Listened To!
We all exist in this world as a unique voice. And there is nothing that a voice wants
more than to be listened to. We do not want to hear and be forgotten. We want others to listen to us properly, understand the meaning behind what we are trying to say, and then form an opinion about us. This is because our true power in life isn’t based on what we say. It depends on how well we are being listened to by others.
For example, as a parent, most of us have a habit of multitasking. It usually happens that a parent is multitasking while their kid is saying something to them, and the parent is hearing the kid but not listening to what they are saying. This is why we often miss out on all the clues that our kids try to give us about where they are and what they are thinking about doing.
Children always try to give a heads up to their parents about how they are feeling and what they want to do. They give their parents a chance to help them find the right direction in life. But because we are not actively listening to them, we miss out on all of those clues kids try to give us. This is one of the reasons you will see most parents saying things like, “I had no idea my kid was up to that.”
The same thing is true for all the relationships you have in your life. Be it your mother, friend, colleague, or anyone else, they all expect you to listen to them actively!
Active Listening In Relationships Is One Of The Most Powerful Skills You Can Develop
In a relationship, if you only make demands on the other person and do not make yourself available to listen to their point of view, it creates a huge problem. Every relationship comprises two people who should be equals in every sense of the word. And that is not possible if the voice of one person keeps on diminishing while that of the other’s keeps on rising.
When you are in the dynamics, where only you can make demands and the other person in the relationship is not able to put their wishes forward because you don’t listen, that relationship turns toxic. Regardless of how you try to present it or convince yourself otherwise, it becomes an abusive relationship.
Active listening makes you more empathetic. When listening to other people, you can decipher their feelings and needs in a better way. Picking up what is behind their words empowers you to solve problems that you didn't even know existed before. And that’s something compelling, isn’t it?
So, we can say that apart from being a skill, active listening in relationships is also a choice! You have to choose to be available to listen to your partner or your children. You have to choose to be willing to understand them and their needs. Nobody can force you to do any of that if you aren’t ready to put in the work by yourself!
The Habit Of Active Listening Starts In Our Childhood
As children, most of us were raised to believe that whatever our parents were saying was always right. We weren’t taught to be open about our demands and wishes. We were just taught not to argue with our parents and be grateful to them. And we carry these values while stepping into adulthood. So when we become parents, we expect the same from our kids. Our egos, childhood experiences, and traumas don’t let us listen to our children.
What this world focuses on the most is the value of obedience! Thus, we are constantly trying to make our children more obedient and not necessarily listening to what they want to say to us. We are more after obedience than their happiness. This makes the young ones feel dejected. They start suffering from the inside. They know that you don't want to listen to their voice or understand who they really are.
So, if you want to be a better parent to your children, it is essential to step out of your ego. You need to decide to actively listen to everything your kid is trying to tell you. You need to make them believe that their voice matters! This will ultimately help your children become better listeners themselves, and they won’t have to go through the difficulties you experienced. Isn’t that what good parenting means?
So, What Exactly Is Active Listening?
Active listening is a technique where you apply your senses to pick up on what people are saying and what they are not saying. It involves more than just using your ears to hear their words. Here, we mean that you can listen with your eyes, with your feelings, with your touch, and so on. So while you just hear with your ears, you listen with all of your senses!
In other words, active listening is nothing but listening to others in the right way! It is a very powerful thing that strengthens both the listener and the speaker. Because when you listen to a voice, you amplify it. You make it louder, not just in volume but also in clarity and expression.
Active listening also allows you to decipher the vibration existing behind people’s words. Words are just a fraction of what good communication entails. Effective communication is also about understanding the other person’s feelings on such a deep level that you start feeling the same thing.
Great listeners don’t only listen to our words, but they also pick up on our vibrations. They get so tuned in to what the other person is telling them that they start feeling their vibrations too. And if you can do the same, your life, relationships, and everything else will change for the better!
Fear Plays A Major Role In Our Communication
Whether we realize it or not, most of our conversations are driven by fear. Fear is the reason we lie in our relationships.
Have you ever thought about why you lie? Just think about that for a minute. Why do you lie and exaggerate so many things when nobody asks you to do so? Why do we feel the need to put up this performance in front of others and make them see a better and grander version of ourselves? The answer to all of these questions is quite simple. You do all of this out of fear.
There is so much fear that we operate from. We are afraid of being embarrassed, making mistakes, being wrong, and so on! We have a fear of people seeing the parts of ourselves that we haven't even thoroughly examined yet. Thus, most of us end up communicating from a place of fear or not communicating at all. That is yet another problem that fear creates. It makes us run away from meaningful conversations.
The moment we see critical conversations coming toward us, we turn and walk the other way. We start to avoid people who bring those conversations to us. An excellent example of this is the race conversation. Most people tend to avoid such conversation as much as possible.
However, this is not the right solution, is it? Running away from a difficult conversation doesn’t solve any problem. Instead, it makes the issues all the worse. Thus, when you find yourself trying to avoid listening or talking about something, here’s what you should do.
Take a breath and remind yourself that you cannot change the reality of what happened in the past. So, there is no reason for you to be afraid of it. Yes, doing so will be difficult initially, but it will also be worth it!
Listening to the things you are afraid of will only make you stronger, better, and more empathetic. Strength and empathy are two such qualities that this world needs the most right now.
Listening To Yourself Is Equally Important As Listening To Others
One of the most important relationships that you will ever have in your life is the relationship with yourself! After all, you spend the maximum amount of time with yourself, isn’t it? Thus, while we are talking about the importance of active listening in relationships, it is essential to understand the importance of understanding your own voice too.
Every being in this world is moving forward based upon the communication inside their head. Now, society also fills us up with all kinds of messages that become the cause or the influence driving us to do the things we do. The problem arises when we stop listening beyond the messages we received as children. And this gives a boost to our ego and makes us unapproachable to others.
On the other hand, we can hear our voices when we learn to listen beyond society's messages. This voice is filled with infinite intelligence that knows exactly where we need to go in life. It helps us move in the right direction. Actively listening to your voice makes all the difference in the world. It takes you closer to your soul and the divine being.
Every night when we go to sleep, our spirit gets up and works on what we desire and why we are here. And our spirit never strays from its cause; it never changes its path. The only thing that has ever had the opportunity to stray from his course is our mind, led by our ego.
So, when you start listening to your voice, you start getting back in tune with your spirit. And this ultimately leads you to the right path in life! So always remember, it all begins with you!
It’s Time To Step Out Of Your Fear!
Our ego has made us believe that we should be afraid of people seeing the real us. It has taught us that if people find out who we are, they’d want to get away from us. And this couldn’t be further from the truth. In reality, when people see the real you, there is a high chance that they will become fond of you. This is because they are yearning for the same thing for themselves too!
Remember, you are not your ego. You are not the person you are pretending to be for
other people. It's not the real you. The real you is someone unique and beautiful. Yes, you are imperfect, but so is everyone else. And you have all the right to find and unleash the real you and shine in all your true glory.
However, you cannot get to know your real self until you listen and have the conversations that have been holding you hostage. Because by having those conversations, you get to understand who you really are. This leads you to find your true self. And when you find your true self, you find your power.
Our ego is afraid of people giving us their honest feedback about what they really feel or think about us. So we take the easy way out and stop listening altogether. And this has created a society full of people who are not willing to listen to each other. Today, people aren't even listening to themselves. This also implies that they are not accurately representing their internal reality to others.
The world we live in today is in communication chaos. Instead of practicing effective communication, we are just hiding behind our computer screens, blaming and screaming at each other. This is the reason that none of our problems are being solved.
After all, you can only solve your problems by having honest and effective communication with each other. And for that, practicing active listening in relationships is imperative.
So, it’s time for you to turn around and face your fears. It’s time for you to be honest about your feelings and listen to others with an active and open mind. This is the only way we can have healthy relationships and happier lives.