We Don’t Listen to Understand We Listen to Reply (The Ultimate Guide + Image Quotes)

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has occurred,” George Bernard Shaw once said.

Consider this: someone is speaking to you, carefully expressing their thoughts so that you can understand them. You wait for gaps in the conversation, when you believe they have finished speaking, and then you interrupt with your own information or repeat what they have just said. You say, “Oh, I know exactly how you feel,” or “I had the same thing happen to me. Allow me to tell you about it!”

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You don't pay attention. You generate your own concepts. You miss the message and the chance to comprehend it. It's all about your plans, not theirs. Have you ever been in a situation like this?

Often, you think you understand what was said, but in reality, you spent the entire time formulating a response and forgot to listen. Listening is arguably the most difficult skill in communication, and we're getting worse at it.

What We Hear vs. What We Know

There is a time lag between hearing and comprehending. This lag time varies from person to person. The lag time can range from a few seconds to a minute, and this is where the problems begin. It is during this lag time that we become distracted and begin to listen to ourselves rather than the person speaking to us. This is when we lose focus and comprehension.

What is the source of this lag time? It could be because of our emotional state. It could also be our physical condition. Our own thoughts and judgments, on the other hand, are the most likely offenders. One example is confirmation bias, which is our tendency to focus on aspects of a conversation that confirm our values, perceptions, and pre-existing beliefs.

The difference between what is said and what we hear is also related to how quickly or slowly a person speaks. Although the average person speaks 175 to 200 words per minute, most people can listen to and process 600 to 1,000 words per minute. As a result, our brain isn't always fully focused on what someone is saying and wanders off in different directions. This makes it difficult for us to understand what is being said.

Another phenomenon is referred to as competitive listening. This is when we react negatively to what is said because we disagree with the other person. We stop listening right away, and the conversation is over.

Allow yourself to comprehend

Let's face it: we're not all going to agree on everything. That is a fact of life, and we must accept it. Instead of succumbing to traps such as confirmation bias and competitive listening, let us try to focus on understanding by becoming a little more empathetic when we listen. Here are a few ideas.

Allow yourself to be open to what is being said. Don't pass judgment; simply listen. If you're having trouble concentrating, repeat what you're hearing in your head.

Forget about the details and focus on the big picture. It is critical to first grasp the overall point of the conversation. Statements are easily misunderstood, especially when they contradict your own beliefs and cause you to listen competitively.

Wait until the other person has finished speaking before interjecting. You can always ask the speaker to repeat themselves, but do so between sentences.

Don't make hasty judgments. Allow the speaker to fully express his or her point of view. This will give you time to consider your options before responding.

Remember that it is perfectly acceptable to disagree with someone, but you must first comprehend their message. Consider why their message might be true and what circumstances would make it so. Asking this puts you “in their shoes,” so to speak, and makes it more difficult to argue with them.

To summarize, most of us were never taught to listen, so it's not our fault. Listening effectively is a skill that must be learned and practiced. You must approach listening with a positive attitude and the goal of completely understanding the other person.

This paradigm is diametrically opposed to the conventional paradigm. It immerses you in the reality of the other person. You immerse yourself in it so that you can see things through the eyes of the other person and understand how they feel. Your response will then be based on complete comprehension.

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