Stephen Covey was absolutely correct when he said that “most people don’t listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply”.
I agree with this statement because in this digital age, almost everyone has an opinion and wants to be heard…
“Listen to me!”
“This is what I have to say.”
“My opinion is that…”
Too much noise, too much buzz here and there.
Communication should be a give and take process. The problem with some of us these days is that we want to be heard – or we think we deserve to be heard. We often forget the fact that the other people have an opinion as well and should be listened to and, more importantly, understood.
In conversations, instead of really listening, most of us only ‘hear’ and can’t wait for the speaker to finish talking so that we can reply. We don’t really digest what the person is talking about in our minds; we just want to have our say.
Maybe this is because we just want to speak our minds as soon as possible. If we let the speaker finish, we may forget what we’re about to say. We just don’t want to look as if we don’t have anything to say for fear of looking stupid or not smart enough to have our take on the topic at hand.
I have seen some seasoned journalists and hosts who make this very common mistake when they interview their guests. Instead of making the interview about their guests, it looks as if they’re “competing” with the latter by not letting them finish what they want to say first, and so cut them off mid-sentence with their own ideas.
Not only is this rude, but doing this results in a number of issues:
a) It makes them look as if they’re the “smarter” one between the two of them.
b) It distracts the other person’s train of thought, so they loses track of what they are about to say.
c) Even worse, it turns the attention or “spotlight” onto the host, when it’s supposed to be on the interviewee.
Now, it’s a different matter if the person has “stopped” mid-sentence and has then looked up to the left.
According to Science of People, “when people look up and to the left, they are remembering or recalling something tapping into the memory part of the brain.”
So if you see someone who did just that and you think they are looking for the right words, it’s acceptable to jump in and give the right word (if you think you know what it is) —and they may even thank you for it.
Listen More to Be Likeable
Harvard scholars have revealed that letting people talk about themselves is intrinsically rewarding, the same way that people feel about money, food and sex.
MRIs indicated that the brain sections connected with motivation becomes active when people talk about themselves – even if nobody is listening.
So there’s really no big secret in communication or how to make people like you. Just make them share more about themselves rather than focusing on yourself.
It gives them a more positive recollection of your interaction, making you instantly likeable.
Just by being there, listening and understanding, your presence becomes valuable. Did you ever have someone come to you and say, “it was really nice talking to you”? When all you actually did was simply listen and understand?
Whether in business, friendships or social settings, it’s always the same rule – more about them and less about you.
For example, let’s say you are in a business convention and you want to see some clients along the way.
Look for them.
Let them talk about themselves.
Ask them about their business.
How they get started. You can even ask about any challenges they are facing.
In short, be genuinely interested.
Make the conversation about themselves. It’s like they’re having a session with a new friend or therapist – only they’re getting it for free. They may even be grateful for that.
And try not to talk about yourself – unless they express interest by asking, for example, “so, what do you do?”
If you listen more with the intent to understand, it shows your genuineness – you value their time and their opinion (even if you don’t believe in it) and accordingly you will unearth more about where the person is coming from. This means you can better communicate with them.
In the end, your reply doesn’t matter unless they ask for it. Because usually, it’s all about the other person. Make them the star of the conversation and you’ll be likeable in no time!