Truly listening means truly and wholeheartedly engaging: leaning in; focussing; responding.
Some years ago in my early days of facilitation, I found myself drifting out of focus in a workshop. Yes, one that I was facilitating! This list of blocks to effective listening helped me realise what I was doing.
Identify what blocks you from listening effectively
We do not always listen effectively. Sometimes we become distracted or our minds wander. How true! We allow our own interests or concerns to get in the way of concentrating on what the other person is saying. And then we can’t respond appropriately!
Typical blocks to effective listening are:
Pre-planning: working out in your own mind what you are going to say next and even mentally rehearsing this.
Second-guessing: anticipating what the other person is going to say next rather than focusing on what they are presently saying (and sometimes even finishing their sentences for them!).
Daydreaming: allowing what you hear to trigger your own thoughts, imaginings or daydreams and therefore not listening.
Pre-judging the person as not worth listening to or having certain feelings or ideas that you assume they have.
Comparing what the other person is saying with your own similar experience, sometimes filtering their experience through yours (and then telling them about it – “That reminds me of the time I…)
Sabotaging: changing the subject so that you talk about what you are interested in (and sometimes interrupting to do this!).
Interrupting: listening for a short time, then cutting in with advice, solutions, or ‘yes, but…’.
Being aware of my listening blocks was the first step in overcoming them. I could pull myself up when I found myself doing this and sometimes admit to the speaker that this was the case, apologise and ask them to repeat what they said. And then I listened totally.