I find myself frequently talking to my kids about communication skills, because frankly they have seen some examples of pretty poor communication. I want for them to be better at communicating than what they have seen. The thing I stress the most to them is that being a good listener is an important communication tool. In fact, it is equally as important as what you say and how you say it.
If you are thinking about what you are going to say as soon as I start talking, then you are not really listening to me. And if you interrupt and start talking a few words into what I am saying, then you definitely aren’t listening, and you are also giving me the impression that you don’t value anything I have to say. Better yet, if you interrupt me a few words into what I am saying and get all defensive because you THINK you know what I am going to say and don’t ever give me a chance to speak, then you have even bigger issues. I have no problem if someone disagrees with something I actually said, but when someone disagrees with what they made up in their head that they thought I was going to say and then holds that against me when it wasn’t what I was going to say at all and won’t let me get a word in edgewise to explain, I have a real problem with that.
Everyone wants to be heard and feel like the person we are talking to values what we have to say. Having someone misunderstand me because they only listened to the very first part of what I was saying seems to be a reoccurring theme in my life. It has been the cause of more arguments than I would care to admit. I think I am pretty good at communicating my thoughts when I am allowed to speak, but when I am constantly being shut down, that is extremely frustrating. It can be equally as frustrating when someone only focuses on little snippets of what I am saying, and I never get the chance to complete a thought and convey correctly what I am trying to say.
Not listening to someone or not allowing him or her to speak is definitely a form of disrespect. If you want a healthy relationship with anyone in your life, you need to listen. And I mean really listen without reading between the lines or looking for hidden messages or anything along those lines. Just listen, as in be silent. The words “listen” and “silent” might just be spelled with the same letters for a reason.
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