In our daily efforts of reaching out both inwards and to those wonderfully diverse souls out there, one key skill springs to mind, and namely the art of listening. So many of our relationships can either flourish or fail based on this capacity of being able to finely tune one’s actions in accordance with our interlocutor’s needs. But even so, many times, our wires still might get crossed, misunderstandings occur and unfortunately the connections we establish may sometimes gradually break down.
“So many of our relationships can either flourish or fail based on this capacity of being able to finely tune one’s actions in accordance with our interlocutor’s needs.”
For these reasons alone, paying attention to both the way in which we express our intentions, needs and wants, and to the manner in which those around us communicate those very things to us is crucial in getting to know each other in a more profound way. Engaging with ourselves and learning to pay attention to everything within may constitute the perfect practice for doing the same with others.
Essentially, there is one major difference between hearing and listening – attention. Being able to become fully immersed in a conversation and really tuning your antennae and listening to what your partner is saying is what makes the difference between actively participating in the here and the now of your interaction, and passively letting any other thing take precedence before reaching any real sense of mutual understanding.
Allowing your thoughts to freely wander the realms of your mind when having a conversation with some other party is highly unfavorable to establishing a real connection with that person. It is of utmost importance to realize that the parameters of any interaction are as fleeting as the moment in which it takes places. That connection is under constant change, as your communicative intentions may change in accordance to your partner’s feedback which is always fluctuating in accordance to how they perceive your very own feedback. The type of relationship and the roles you assume within it are always susceptible to modification, so is the purpose of your interaction and whether you interpret your partner’s motives and means of expression the same way as they intended them to be perceived.
“We may inadvertently keep focusing on ourselves, on solely concentrating on how we perceive the message and how it will impact us and thus begin to go through a mental checklist of the things we ought to say next so that we may respond in a certain manner or for aiming to be perceived in a certain light.”
Therefore, paying attention to the details of how we communicate seems not just optional, but essential. However, to be able to participate in the fine art of conversing and listening there is no need to add any pressure to the mix. For optimal outcomes, what is mostly required is having the self-awareness to observe one’s behavior throughout the interaction. It is at this point where a little bit of mindfulness can go a long, long way. It is highly important to be able to tell when one’s thoughts are starting to roam faraway lands instead of paying attention to what is being said. It requires making the effort to know when one’s own mental patterns and preconceived ideas are butting in to the detriment of the interaction, turning the conversation into just another auditory event we process through passive hearing and not active listening.
It becomes fairly easy to get distracted and instead of listening to what is being said to keep getting ahead of ourselves, missing out on the deeper meanings of the message, by only paying superficial attention to the interaction. We may inadvertently keep focusing on ourselves, on solely concentrating on how we perceive the message and how it will impact us and thus begin to go through a mental checklist of the things we ought to say next so that we may respond in a certain manner or for aiming to be perceived in a certain light.
“Being aware of how we engage in communicating with our partners is the first step in remedying any miscommunication.”
Others prefer fretting over making sure that their intentions are the ones at the foreground of the interaction, making it thus much more difficult to reach any real consensus. They may jump to conclusions and interfere with the flow of the conversation rather than help it run smoothly. But the silver lining to all of this is that the remedy to the situation is at our disposal at all times.
Being aware of how we engage in communicating with our partners is the first step in remedying any miscommunication. Adjusting our passive hearing to intentionally and actively following their message is the next one. And really, that’s all there is to it. It may take a few times to get it right, but that’s also the beauty of the process. Each interaction will always bring something exciting and new to the surface. Mapping meanings and playing with semiotics are just some fun means of getting to know yourself through others and others through you.
Photo credits: boy – Shutterstock.com, figurines – Pixabay.com (ed_davad)