Truly listen by silencing thought chatterWritten by Tom Richard | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Listening to an audiobook I had heard a dozen times, my ears perked up as I heard a section of the program I swear I had never heard before. Confused and delighted, I wondered if I wasn’t listening as closely as I thought. Could it be that I was only hearing what I wanted to hear? The truth lies in a combination of the two.
Imagine standing in a crowded, noisy room. You are speaking with someone, intently focused upon hearing his or her words. As you struggle to block out the many other sounds in the room, you still find it difficult to concentrate upon your conversation. Clearly, the other voices in the room are making it difficult for you to give your undivided attention to the person who is speaking.
This reason — the other noises in the room — is why I had never heard that “missing” book section and why, on an everyday basis, many people do not hear half of what they listen to. We are all trying to listen with other noises in the room, which makes it difficult to give our undivided attention to the person standing in front of us. The noises we hear have been present for so long, we don’t even realize they are there. They are the incessant voices of the thinking mind.
For many, the mention of voices in the head draw sharp rebuke, ridicule and denial. The reaction comes in the form of the voice in your thinking mind, the voice you hear as you read this article. The same voice you hear when you witness a child misbehaving in line at the grocery store; the voice that vows never to allow a child of yours to act that way.
These voices continue to chatter during your every waking moment and they are blocking your ability to fully listen. They are causing you to hear only what you want to hear and are preventing you from truly connecting with those you talk with on a daily basis.
Instead of truly listening, these voices or thoughts are constantly picking through your conversation for keywords in anticipation of the right moment to speak or the next topic in much the same way a child picks through Lucky Charms for marshmallows instead of the healthy oats.
In this distracted state, you are setting yourself up for failure. Being able to listen to a person wholly is one of the most essential keys to success in any endeavor.
Listening effectively requires you to silence the never-ending stream of chatter coming from your thoughts. For example, you wouldn’t have SpongeBob SquarePants on television during a sales presentation. You see, most thoughts have nothing to do with the moment at hand. The voices that we call thoughts are in constant motion, whether contemplating last week’s 35-foot putt or Thursday’s lunch date. They distract us from the present moment, cloud our mind and cripple our ability to make sound judgments, react appropriately and understand what is being asked of us.
The key to silencing these thoughts first requires their recognition. It helps to view them as separate entities from you. Treat them as if they are obnoxious children and simply observe them. Ask, “What am I going to think next?” then observe their responses. You will notice it takes a moment before another thought enters your mind. This is the first step to enjoying mental silence.
It is this mental silence you will need if you are going to be able to listen with your whole body the next time you find yourself going into any meaningful conversation. As you listen, you will discover that you are now able to hear the meaning behind the person’s words. You will discover that you are hearing things you otherwise would have missed. You will discover that you are able to connect with family, colleagues and customers on a whole new level.
Tom Richard is a Toledo-based sales trainer, gives seminars, runs sales meetings and provides coaching for salespeople. For more information, visit www.TomRichard.com, call (419) 441-1005 or e-mail email@example.com.