Want to Avoid Conflicts? Listen Properly Using These Six Strategies
Let’s be honest- relationships can be difficult. Whether it’s at home with a loved one or in the workplace with a colleague.
In a moment, misunderstandings can happen, leaving you and the other person feeling frustrated, unheard and unloved.
Imagine this scenario:
Person A says something, but person B hears something else.
The reason is because he interprets what he hears from the perspective of his own experiences. Person B feels hurt and attacked. He immediately defends himself and an argument erupts.
How often have you said the following or heard someone else say: “You never listen to me!” “You always blame me.” “No matter how hard I try, it’s never right!”
The question I’m asking you is: “How do these misunderstandings occur and can anything be done to fix them?”
Listening is a key factor in these difficult situations.
There’s a difference between hearing and listening. Too often we hear what is said, but don’t truly listen.
When you make the effort to listen properly, you can avoid years of misunderstanding and conflict.
Here are six strategies you can use to master the art of listening, and improve your relationships and interactions with other people:
1. Look in order to listen:
As children we were taught to look into each other’s eyes during a conversation.
When you’re having a conversation with someone and you look into their eyes, take a moment to observe them. You may be surprised at what you see, and it could give you a wealth of information to help you understand them better.
Behind the supposedly angry eyes, you may recognize the hurt of your counterpart and in turn listen with care and empathy.
“Many people do not listen to understand their counterpart, but to defend themselves.” (Author unknown)
Pause before rushing to any interpretation and do not take it personally. So often the other person’s reaction has very little to do with you.
Sometimes it only takes a cue, a mimic or a specific tone to catapult a person into unconscious spheres of their existence. Their immediate reaction is defensive. It’s a “survival pattern” adopted during childhood for protection.
Listen attentively without interpreting the words of the other person according to your usual patterns. When you do, your conversation can be the key to solving many years of misunderstandings.
3. Listen to yourself
It sounds counter intuitive, but listen to yourself during clashes.
When you open your ears to what you are saying, you begin to recognize where your own pain is buried, why you take something personally or why something hurts you so much.
4. Listen with an open mind
“If you speak, you only repeat what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new” (Dalai Lama)
Often we are so convinced of our own views that we don’t want to hear other beliefs at all.
Yet, it makes sense to listen to a different opinion to the end, to examine it, then either put it aside, or take it partially or perhaps even completely.
Whether or not you agree with the other person; when you take the time to listen to them completely, they will feel respected and heard. In turn, it will make a world of difference to your interaction.
5. Listen with your senses
Nature has equipped us with amazing senses. In many cases though, we’ve forgotten how to use them.
Listen, not just with your ears, but with all of your senses.
With your nose you can “scent” that something is not in order- you ‘smell a rat’.
You may get ‘goose bumps’ or something ‘makes your hair stand on end’.
Consciously using your eyes to see and observe the whole person and their body language, gives you a clear advantage.
When you listen to the reactions of your body you are often already warned.
Observe with all your senses. Take time to listen, properly, impartially and without jumping to interpret what you are hearing.
6. Be the change you want to see in others
If you find yourself saying: “I always listen, but others don’t listen to me!” Don’t be discouraged. While this may be the case, we always have to start with ourselves. Whoever starts and makes a genuine effort will notice that others will follow.
Think about these words from Mahatma Gandhi and what he achieved:
“We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do.”
What happens when you listen properly?
When you use these strategies and take the time to listen intentionally, then you will understand what the conversation is really about. From there you can respond.
The words that leave your mouth will be gentle, loving, constructive and motivating. They will be measured, analytical and clear. They may not be what the other expects at that moment, but they will correspond to a certain truth. And a truth spoken from the heart sets free. It may hurt the ego, but it never injures the heart.
It also makes it possible to move away from the problem and look for solutions. When you wallow in problems you will reap problems. But when you look for solutions, you will find solutions.
You will improve your health- physically, mentally and emotionally. Conflicts are often powerful triggers for diseases. By listening properly and improving your communication, conflicts will not arise or will be handled constructively. This is a good start to promote co-existence and live in a more harmonious environment.
When you take sincere interest in the other person, and listen with the intention of understanding what she really wants to say to you, it will be felt. You will be setting your relationship up for success.
Do you struggle with conflicts that arise from misunderstandings in the way you communicate with loved ones or work colleagues? Do you long to have more harmony in your interactions with those around you? If you want to improve your communication and listening skills, but don’t know how, please contact me.
Together we will discover the main trigger for your current situation and how to change it and communicate effectively. I will walk alongside you, to teach, guide, and help you improve your relationships and lead a more harmonious life.
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