I was exhausted and at my wit’s end. My to-do list was growing instead of shortening. I’d calmed down and counted to ten about twenty times; despite how much I repeated myself, there was a complete breakdown in communication. I didn’t understand how a grown woman with a master’s degree and two coaching certifications couldn’t have a productive conversation. The problem: I was trying to negotiate with a three-year-old. Every time I thought we reached a point of understanding, she’d smile and find a new way to get into trouble. She heard me…but she wasn’t listening.
While I can joke and laugh about my communication breakdowns with my niece, the awkwardness of failed expectations and disappointments in adult relationships is no laughing matter. It can destroy marriages, families friendships, businesses and careers.
A few weeks ago, I discussed three strategies that can be employed to boost your emotional quotient (EQ)—ability to relate to and understand others. One strategy was listening before speaking. I know from experience that is much easier said than done. It’s not that we don’t want to listen…sometimes we just don’t know how.
Real listening is not just about hearing words—it occurs when we hear the heart of the speaker. It is hearing the truth that lies between the words that are spoken. It takes time, practice and patience but we can all learn to listen with our hearts and create the type of connection that strengthens relationship. We must listen with our spirits, souls and bodies. Here are some tips to get you started:
1. Eliminate the Noise: In our fast-paced world, distractions come a mile a minute. Despite the myth of multitasking, we function best when we concentrate and focus. Make sure you don’t miss the important moments of your relationships by reducing distractions in your environment.
2. Enjoy the Song of Silence: Most of us aren’t comfortable with lapses in conversation. We rush to fill the void that silence can create. But sometimes the moments of silence reveal more about someone’s heart and thinking than the words they speak. We need to be comfortable with what the silence is telling us.
3. Find the Match: Listen out for the moments when someone’s tone and words don’t align. The truth of how someone is really thinking and feeling can be found in the tone and the emphasis they place on certain words. When you find a discrepancy between words and tones, don’t be afraid to investigate and discover the reason behind it.
4. Get Physical: Body language speaks volumes. When speaking, watch the other person’s body language and listen to yours. Don’t be afraid to read the total message they are transmitting. Their mouths may say yes, but their bodies may show resistance. The complete picture will help you gain a clear understanding of how to proceed. Also, listen to what your body and instincts tell you. If you feel uncomfortable or uneasy in…pay attention and ask questions to gain clarity.
Do Your Work: Slowly practice integrating these tips into your conversations. You may find that you are naturally stronger in some areas than others. Be deliberate about developing these skills and notice the impact they have on your interactions.
Define Your Wealth: “I don’t just hear the words of others, I hear their hearts!”
Named eWomenNetwork’s first “North America’s Next Greatest Speaker” in 2012, Coach Felicia is a Personal Worth Strategist who empowers her clients to “Turn their Worth into Wealth” as she partners with them to DISCOVER their WORTH, DO their WORK and DEFINE their WEALTH. As a gift this week, ESSENCE.com readers will receive FREE registration to her “THRIVE! Ideas Journaling Teleseminar” at www.coachfelicia.com/essence-gift. Visit Coach Felicia at www.coachfelicia.com!