Effective listening

On the first day of our sessions with Tony I realised that I had, through the years, somehow become a bit of a better listener. It is not easy to commit yourself to listen actively, to really become interested in what other people are saying. Many times our mind drifts away for two main reasons, either something the person says activates something in your mind and it starts making immediate connections and disengages from the rest of the talk; or nothing the person says really engages you and your mind simply goes ahead and starts working on something more productive than staying there passively waiting for something interesting to come out.

There are some reasons that prevent someone from listening effectively. First, it is very hard to keep your attention when people are just reproducing something the tutor, someone else or even yourself have already said; secondly, sometimes people simply get off the track and start saying things that have no relevance with the topic at all; and last,  and worse still, when they take a lot of ‘air time’ to say the same things over and over again when you have already got what they mean. Under such circumstances we could ask ourselves, why to keep listening at all when these things happen? Well, there are a number of good reasons to keep listening patiently.

First and foremost, if you really want to become a trainer you have to develop this sort of patient approach because some people can only process things when they are speaking – they are developing their thoughts and making their connections, they are internalizing what you have discussed/presented – and this is your ultimate goal as a trainer after all.

Second, even if your interlocutor’s talk sounds plain and obvious to you, somewhere there in the middle of it, something new and interesting may find its way up the surface and suddenly what was predictable may bring you a novelty. People’s minds are not organised in the same way as yours and you actually never know when some new connection or idea will come up. If you have already disconnected, you will miss it.

Last, even if you think that what is being said is just common sense or non-sense at all, the person speaking is making an effort to communicate and the least you can do it is to respect it and listen.

I confess that many times  I have to make a conscious effort to listen to others but I can just be thankful to them because of it. They are training me.