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How to Listen without Judgement?

Kamilah MS

As human beings, we are given a pair of ears to hear and listen.

Listening is a very important communication skill to have.

Have you ever been so frustrated with another person for misunderstanding the words you said or when they had misconstrued the sentences that came out of your mouth or when someone misread your text messages or e-mail?

I’ve caught myself not listening attentively and I have been on the receiving end of others not listening.

Yes, we all know that human beings make mistakes and sometimes I do make the mistakes of judging or misjudging what the other person is saying and this is bound to happen when we spend most of our time interacting with other people daily.

When we have the habit of consistently misunderstanding what the other person is saying and often get ourselves in an argument with people around us, then we may want to have a deeper look into ourselves and ask ourselves the following questions:

Have I been listening? Or..

Have I been busy judging and not listen to what the other person is saying?

Numerous tests confirm that we are inefficient listeners. Studies have shown that immediately after listening to a 10-minute oral presentation, the average listener has heard, understood and retained 50 percent of what was said.
Within 48 hours, that drops off another 50 percent to a final level of 25 percent efficiency.
In other words, we often comprehend and retain only one-fourth of what we hear. We all want to be more than 25 percent efficient. It’s not difficult to see the many problems inefficient listeners can create for themselves and others. Poor listening causes us many personal and professional problems.

https://extension.missouri.edu/publications/cm150

Whenever the other person is speaking, their words would go through deletion, generalisation or distortion process through the filters that we have when we are processing what we hear.

We filter our external events including what we are listening to through filters such as our values, our beliefs, our memories, our knowledge, five senses, emotion and physiology and more. (Refer to the diagram of NLP Communication Model above)

For example, the moment we heard one word that was being uttered that reminded us of someone in the past or an unpleasant incident from the past, we would either space out or completely stopped listening to what the other person is saying.

Or an incident when we were talking to someone who had a perfume or cologne scent similar to that of your ex’s or a loved one’s who had passed away, you stopped listening as your mind wandered off and you zoned out of the conversation.

Or when someone were to decide to talk about a topic you disliked and it left you with an opinion about the person, you stopped listening.

Most of the time we do this filtering process without having total awareness about them. Filtering what people say becomes an automatic process that you thought you had no control over all this while.

The first step is to have awareness as to what are the filters that you have on each time you are being the person listening. Notice what are you generalising, eliminating or distorting and set them aside as you listen to the other person without the need to judge, eliminate or distort what the person was saying.

Listening is an activity that requires your attention, energy and effort. Most of the time we think that the person who is doing the talking is the most important person in communication that’s why we have a lot more courses on how to speak with confidence and not so much on how to listen.

Imagine a world if more and more people could learn how to listen, the world would be able to keep the peace than merely talking about peace when not many were listening. It is evident with what is happening in some countries or tribes when both sides did not listen to one another.

After having awareness about your filter then what?

Begin to acknowledge to the other person how you have not been listening and take full responsibility for how you listen and react. Drop the ego and simply acknowledge it because it is powerful when you want to make things happen in any relationships that matter to you. By acknowledging our humanity, you will allow others to begin to see their humanity too because like I said not everyone is aware that they have a smokescreen in between them and the other person. It could be a huge revelation for others too when you begin to share about your filters and the impact of holding on to those filters.

Join the K Community in the next conversation about how to listen this coming Saturday.

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