Yes – not carefully listening to each other leads to disagreements and discords among individuals and groups. Be it in a personal relationship or a professional matter, when we don’t listen we don’t know what the other party wants, thus giving wind to the flames of grievances and may possibly result in no communication at all.

Being all ears and giving full attention span is a basic courtesy. We (humans), being the superior, the most intelligent creature with all so many languages and we aren’t able to afford these basic courtesies, that we can’t offer full consideration for a while without drifting away. What happened to us!

“One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.” – Bryant H. McGill

Impediments to effective listening are in abundance in this age, it can be preconceived opinions, personal agendas, distractions, emergencies, disputes and not wanting to talk to someone or invest time and effort in them.

Becoming a good listener

To become a good listener it is vital to focus solely on the speaker and remove all obstacles that may affect his/her ability to speak. It is paramount to let go of yourself to the words being said, emotions and feelings being conveyed, to make him/her feel in control that all attention is affirmed.

“You cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.” – M. Scott Peck

Good listening doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to be silent all the time while other party speaks, it is something that a good listener adds to the conversation; by asking genuine questions in between, by giving feedback and insights based on personal experiences. While nodding, body gestures and “uh huh” are important, being active in conversations is a sign of a good listener.

It is also important to let go of all the biases and keep an open mind to the conversations. Presumptions, bias may cloud the listener’s judgement and affect the conversation. Also it’s necessary to not make it all about yourself that will make the other party ponder, “Do you want to make it all about yourself, or do you also want to hear what I want to say?”

“Most of the successful people I’ve known are the ones who do more listening than talking.” – Bernard Baruch

Putting away distractions like mobile phones, laptops and music goes a long way towards a fruitful conversation and effective listening. It re-affirms to the speaker that he has got all the attention and wants to be heard, thus resulting in deep talk and more openness to the idea of sharing feelings with the listener.

“Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. The friends who listen to us are the ones we move toward. When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand.” – Karl A. Menninger

A good listener will try to understand what the speaker has to say and look for any non-verbal cues or key signals, what are his / her emotions, feelings and perspective. You may not agree about what is being said, but convey your opinion in such a way that is deemed appropriate, like you can share more constructive point of view or other suggestions that you think are more appropriate.

Though not all conversations require high grade listening, but it will surely be more beneficial with full attention and high levels of listening. A co-operative conversation helps to develop a person’s self-esteem and helps to clear-out any misconceptions.

I believe we should aspire to play the role of trees to be good listeners; absorb all that is thrown at us and only release positive energy (I concede, not the best of analogies). That we don’t miss anything when it comes to listening; any verbal or non-verbal cues that help to better understand the point of view of speaker, and churn out helpful ideas and suggestions that leads to enriching and desirable conversation.