There is a large quantity of talk in our lives and it is easy to undervalue the true worth of conversation. Since the quality of talk ranges from time-wasting to life-changing, it is not easy to simplify whether a particular talk is important or inconsequential. But unfortunately, people tend to make snap judgments concerning the impact of another person’s words and then allocate attention accordingly.
In such instances, language becomes rather ineffectual means of communication. Something seemingly of little import may hide behind the words a host of other information that may be of vast importance. Often, people actually say something without precisely spelling it out.
However, it is possible to become a better listener and one can begin to grasp the hidden messages behind a conversation. Paying more attention is of little help if one does not know what to pay attention to. Disclosures are easy to recognize when we hear them if they are risky. On the other hand, it is the disclosures of minor risk that people do not see them for what they are. Ordinarily, whenever a piece of information is provided to you that fall outside the normal daily exchange.
It should sound a little alarm to consider the risk the speaker is taking in making the disclosure. By listening to, recognizing, and analyzing the magnitude of a disclosure, one can also get some idea about the amount of trust the other person has in you. However, this task sometimes gets a little difficult when you are flooded with disclosures.
One good thing about flooded disclosures is that they provide avenues for insight and invention as they involve obsessive, preoccupied, lost-in-thought process. In such instances, the disclosure becomes preoccupied with reliving, problem solving, complaining, or justifying, so to say everything else concerning the conversation gets pushed to the background including the listener. Since disclosure is a two-way street, disclosure matching makes for a long-term association.
Some statements are reflective and they mirror back the heart of another’s message. They re-present the message, usually in a condensed form. They neither try to solve the other person’s problems, nor add new meaning nor analyze the message. They simply show that meaning has been registered and reveal an act of empathy. They can be One of the most powerful talk tools if you consider good listening to is a means °f getting the most information you can from a speaker. Reflections are useful and necessary because people often have a hard time simply saying “I understand” or “I feel for you”.
Reflections reassure the speaker in a subtle manner and without seriously breaking up the rhythm of a conversation. They can also be used to guide the speaker when he moves off a subject before you feel you have heard enough. However, an off-the-mark reflection can encourage the speaker to elaborate, and repeat the same message with a little different twist. So, it is important to hone on this skill.
Some statements are interpreters in the sense they take the same message and remanufacture it, classify it, and deliver it as a piece of news. Thus, it is an aggressive tool compared to reflection which is restrained and follows the other’s message, avoiding attempts at adding new meaning. Basically, whenever someone takes information and forms an opinion, whether it is in the shape of a solution to a problem, an insult, advice, a character analysis, or a criticism, it is an interpretation. Interpretations, given sincerely try to tell something that is not known to the listener. It is necessary to understand the intent behind interpretations before acting on the information they relay.
Another important area where one has to keep his ear tuned to interpretation is in novel and new situations as they have a potentiate embarrassment, confusion, and even possible loss of face. Here, the key is to listen for phrasing. Words with absolute characteristics always, never, impossible, everyone, nobody, nothing, etc., are often danger signs of interpretation.
Questions, the most popular piece of language, are used for a wide range of reasons and motives. The interesting part about questions is not what they are asking but what they are telling. Loaded questions often start with phrases such as ‘wouldn’t it be better if,’ ‘why don’t you.’ ‘shouldn’t we try to,’ aren’t you being,’ ‘doesn’t that make you,’ etc. In such questions the message is more important than the question asked. So when you listen to a loaded question, ask yourself why it was not phrased more neutrally.
People who are looking for a particular response without necessarily manipulating the listener to make that response use semi-innocent questions like “What do you think?” People searching for a brief answer ask closed questions. They can be recognized as they are often put with a voice that sounds eager or impatient, wanting a speedy, cogent answer. These questions are vital and recognizing them for what they are can keep you from running off at the mouth when someone asks you something simple.
Open questions invite longer, unrushed answers. If closed and open questions are not used properly it would result in answers that are either not full enough to be satisfying or are four times longer than what you were looking for. People who want to display knowledge use disclosing questions. If you come across a question that is so detailed, well informed, and conclusive, that person is not asking you anything. Instead, he is telling you that he is, in fact, well informed. Hence, what is said and how it is said are both important for a listener. When you start framing questions in different ways depending on the answers required, you have started to sharpen your listening focus.
Besides listening, good memory is another necessity. People take more kindly to you if they believe that you feel they are important enough to remember. Good memory will make people look well informed, competent, and on top of the situation. Believe it or not, the secret to a good memory is the same as the secret to listening skills paying more attention. If someone is not initially paying enough attention to a piece of information, be it a name, place, fact, or figure, it will never be properly fed into his memory.
When there is something special, unique or unusual, people automatically pay attention to it. But if it is something commonplace or names, faces, facts, and figures that are so numerous then an additional effort is required. It requires observation, which is distinct from seeing something for a momentary and featureless experience. It means paying attention to detail, and setting the object apart from other things in your mind and memory. It can be done by noticing special properties or features of commonplace items.
The best way is to raise a question and then make an observation to answer it. With practice, observation may become a person’s second nature. As focus on details increase, the way you look at things will also change. The attention paid to detail will make each object rare enough that it will stand out in your mind and be easily encoded.