Pretty much anyone can do it, anywhere, anytime and it is probably the simplest way to improve any relationship.

We are not educated to listen – to speak, convince others, get our message across, yes; but not to listen. This one sided approach does not lead to better communication. It probably doesn’t even help get our message across: who are you more likely to listen to – someone who has listened to you or someone who has marshalled their points and delivers a well prepared speech. If you are like me it will be the person who has listened to you first.

  • If you have been in the situation where you think the two people arguing are actually saying the same thing and don’t realise it; you have some indication of how much time and trouble can be saved by a little listening.
  • If you take the time to listen in on normal conversations you will be impressed by how little time is spent listening.
  • If you then recall the times you have been listened to; you will probably have a good sense of how much more satisfying our relationships can be.

And it doesn’t take much – just a little time and effort.

How to do it? Here’s a start.

  • After someone finishes speaking, pause and check that you understand,
  • perhaps paraphrase what they said.

I’m often surprised what I miss, even in very usual conversations about the weather and so on. (I learnt that a friend of mine actually likes overcast days – so when she said that it was a really grey day she felt good about it.)

  • If the situation is right you can then take a guess at the underlying feeling or emotion.

This is best phrased as a question or a guess. Otherwise the person will likely feel put off.

Working at listening will almost certainly improve any relationship you are in.

It will also be very likely to increase the number of friends you have. And it is so very easy to do.

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