listening is the first step to being heard

 

Listening Is The First Step To Being Heard

 

I am constantly hearing people saying, yelling, and screaming, “Listen to me!” They don’t always say it using those words, but they are demanding in one way or another that people listen to them. Unfortunately, this isn’t the way to be heard.

 

Conversation Vs. Being Heard

 

The first step, no matter the topic, is to set a goal of having a conversation about the topic rather than to be heard. Having a goal of being heard cannot have a fulfilling outcome. If you are able to speak every word that you desire and the other person listens, then what do you expect to happen? You spoke. They listened. Is that it? It might be in some situations. However, generally people want the other person to support them or take some type of action.

 

Thus, enters the conversation. A conversation is critically important if you want to walk away from the interaction feeling as if you achieved your goal. Without a conversation, you really aren’t connecting with the other person. You are simply dumping ideas, thoughts, or emotions on them.

 

Now, if a person’s goal is to support a narrative that “no one ever listens to them,” the being heard approach is the way to go. However, I would challenge anyone with that narrative to ask themselves, “How much better would life be if I had true conversations?”

 

Listening Is Required

 

Conversations take more effort and they require listening. If a person only wants to demand that others listen to them, a conversation is not possible. Instead, they must approach the topic as a conversation. Each person must be allowed to express their perspective with a polite exchange back and forth.

 

This is one of the challenges that our society now faces. No one listens; however, everyone wants to be heard. The primary reason that people demand to be heard is that no one, themselves included, is listening.

 

Temper Tantrums

 

When a person demands to be heard and no one appears to listen, they become more and more agitated. Both people (or groups of people) continue to get louder and louder. However, no one is listening to the other one.

 

This phenomenon is much like children having a temper tantrum. Neither the parent nor the child (who may not have the skills yet) takes steps to defuse the situation. Instead, the child causes more and more disruption until the situation boils over.

 

In the case with adults, most should be able to defuse the situation, but perhaps that skill is lacking or the person is gaining something by not defusing the situation. With children, they are often trying to breakdown their parents to get something they want. The same is likely true of adults that would rather demand to be heard than have an actual conversation.

 

Two Ears, One Mouth

 

So, how do we improve society? We do so by connecting with others and having true conversations. Start by listening. As it has been said, “We have two ears and one mouth for a reason.” You might be surprised what you would learn if you really listened to someone with a different perspective.

 

And, you might be surprised that by listening to them, they also listen to you!

 

 

 

In the early days of telephones, an operator connected someone with another party by plugging wires into a switchboard. If everything worked properly, this action established a voice connection between the two parties. However, occasionally the operator crossed the wires and a person ended up talking with someone they had not intended to contact. The analogy of crossing wires spread into communication between people when there was a misunderstanding between the two parties. “Sorry, I think we crossed our wires” became a standard apology.

 

Miscommunication

 

People are not always aware that wires have gotten crossed. Yet, the miscommunication may still cause emotions to flare. In extreme cases, a person may become so upset that they completely disconnect from the other person without the other person knowing why. Other times, however, the person recognizes that there was a miscommunication allowing them to take corrective action.

 

Human beings are constantly involved in some form of relationship with others. Thus, they are constantly vulnerable to miscommunication.

 

Ambiguity of the spoken word contributes to wires being crossed. English, in particular, contains many possible interpretations of the same set of words. Fortunately, it is believed that the actual words spoken may make up as little as 7% of communication with body language and tone accounting for the remainder.

 

Body Language

 

A person cannot convey body language in writing without writing a small script. Although tone can be expressed through the written word, it can be challenging. Thus, the writer must convey their message using only a small fraction of the communication tools available when speaking.

 

Even when speaking, non-verbal communication may be challenging. Often, people are not conscious of the messages being sent to others via their non-verbal cues. Sometimes, the truth shows even when the speaker intends to hide it. For instance, a person’s true feelings may show when they are trying to encourage a friend, but feel in their heart that the situation will not work out. A person has to be both aware and practiced to hide or change non-verbal messages.  Even politicians and others who are coached on body language often slip up and let their true feelings show.

 

Even when the intended message is conveyed, the recipients of the message may not interpret it as it was intended. Connections can become strained. And, sometimes those connections permanently break over something minor.  If properly understood,  the message would be accepted and have little or no impact on the relationship.

 

Things To Consider

 

If a person gets upset about something that someone says or does, they need to consider if they are properly interpreting the message. First, the person may desire to consider if there are alternative ways to interpret the message. Second, the person might ask the other person to explain further. Third, if the person believes they received the intended message, they might explain to the other person the message they received and how it affected them.

 

The person may just find out that wires got crossed. By clarifying the intent, it can potentially strengthen connections with others as they engage in caring and thoughtful communication.