Listening is necessary and crucial for healthy relationships, both professionally and personally. The following bad habits block listening:
- Mind reading - Assuming you know what the other person feels and thinks without asking. When you “mind read”, you don’t engage in conversation or ask questions, allowing you to grow to a deeper understanding of the other person. Be curious about others. Ask questions, even if you think you know how they will answer. Most likely you will find that you are right only some of the time.
- Rehearsing - Planning what you want to say next and missing what’s being said now. When you are “rehearsing”, you are not present in the conversation. Often when you are focused on what you want to say next, you miss the heart and meaning of the other person. Listen fully and take time to respond thoughtfully.
- Filtering - Listening only to things that are relevant to you and ignoring the rest (even if it’s important to the other person). When you filter, you are being selfish, deciding what part of the conversation is important. When you consider not only your own interest, but also the interest of others, you show a balance between your needs and their needs (Philippians 2:4).
- Judging - Evaluating the other person and what they say rather than really trying to understand how they see the world. Take the time to repeat what you heard the other person said, focusing on understanding them correctly.
- Daydreaming - Getting caught in memories or fantasies while someone is talking to you. This perpetuates disconnectedness and disengagement in the relationship.
- Advising - Looking for suggestions and solutions instead of listening and understanding. First look to acknowledge what the other person has shared, validating feelings that they may be identifying. Before offering solutions, ask the other person if they would appreciate them.
- Sparring - Invalidating the other person by arguing and debating. Seek diplomacy by acknowledging the other person’s thoughts and feelings as you offer your own ideas and reactions.
- Being right - Resisting or ignoring any communication that suggests you are wrong or should change. When your need to be right trumps any discussion, you alienate the other person and sacrifice the relationship.
- Derailing - Changing the subject as soon as you hear anything that bothers or threatens you. This is a defensive way to avoid talking about uncomfortable topics. However, when you avoid, you inadvertently indicate that the relationship or the other person are not important enough for you to talk about the subject.
- Placating - Agreeing too quickly (“I know …you’re right…I’m sorry”) without really listening to the other person’s feelings or concerns. Placating is a controlling behavior because it tries to stop the other person from being angry. Learning to step into the discomfort of hearing the other person will communicate that you care enough for the other person to hear and acknowledge their feelings.
At VCC Counseling, it is our goal to help individuals, couples and families discover healthier and more caring relationships. We have a team of professional therapists that can guide and coach you, give us a call today.