I want to share some takeaways I got from reading an article about improving active listening. What intrigued me was how author Cash Nickerson (The Samurai Listener) compared listening to martial arts in terms of it being an activity that requires you to be in the moment. Moreover, Nickerson uses the analogy of martial arts as a way for the reader to understand that being receptive and aware will bring out desired outcomes and improve your fortitude to continue. I made a previous post about active listening a while back, but this post will divulge more details that I hope you, actually scratch that, we all can learn from and apply. With that said, below is an acronym (ARE U PRESENT) that was used in the article for a better understanding. I will include my perspective in italics.
“We come into conversations with our own agendas and low attention spans, but if you want to build better relationships you need to master active listening.”
– Stephanie Vozza
Awareness: Start with basic awareness. Get your face out of your phone, and stop thinking about what you’re going to do later today.
Reception: Be willing to receive new information. You may be present, but your mind can be closed. Let go of opinions, and be willing to drop your biases.
Me: You can be physically present but if your mind starts drifting, everything coming your way will cause you to be confused. A good way to always be present is by having consistent eye contact when conversing.
Engagement: Being engaged involves back-and-forth fairness, like a Ping-Pong match. “I talk, you talk,” says Nickerson.
Me: Reduce the amount of talking over, interrupting, and so forth. If not, it will ruin the rhythm and flow.
Understanding: Listen with the intention of interpreting what the other person is saying. Get into a place of understanding, where you’re both speaking the same language, figuratively and literally.
Me: If what I said above is done, information will be understood and reciprocated seamlessly.
Persistence: Be willing to stay the course and not let your mind wander. If you get bored and tired, push through to maintain your attention.
Resolution: Bring the conversation to a close with takeaways and next steps. “Leaders are doers,” says Nickerson.
Emotions: Respect the existence of emotions and their roles. “Emotions can work for you or against you,” says Nickerson. “Recognize their roles and learn to discern them and their effect on your ability to hear others.”
Senses: Employ your other senses to help you remember. Look for body language clues or even potential bluffing in the other person.
Ego: Try to take your ego out of the conversation. A humble leader can listen more easily because they don’t correlate their ego with success.
Nerves: Look for stress or tension; it can get in the way of being able to listen.
Tempo: Get in touch with the rhythm of the speaker. Being out of sync with their way of talking can make it hard to listen.