How to Be A Good Listener: My Resolution to Stop Interrupting!
How effective are you at listening? A few weeks ago, someone asked me this question, and I thought I was an above average listener. But then I started paying attention to the way I listen, and I realized that unless I am very aware, I have a bad habit of interrupting other people.
How often do you interrupt others? If you really paid attention, you might be surprised at how often you do it, just like I was. The problem is that interrupting other people causes breakdowns in our lives.
Breakdowns Caused by Interrupting
Ineffective Listening Limits Learning: Interrupting makes us unable to listen effectively, which means we can’t learn anything new.
Problems in Relationships: Interrupting disrupts communication and hurts our relationships because other people know that we are not truly listening to them.
Here are some reasons why we often find ourselves interrupting and some tips to help us shake that bad habit.
Reasons Why We Interrupt
Don’t Want to Forget: When others are talking and we aren’t truly listening, sometimes we are planning our own rebuttal or the point we want to make, and we will interrupt to make sure we don’t forget what we’re going to say. Instead, try trusting that if what you have to say is important, you will remember it later. What really matters is being fully present to the other person as a listener.
Completing Sentences: We often interrupt to complete other peoples’ sentences because we think we already know what they’re going to say. But this limits our ability to learn something new. Perhaps we really don’t know what the other person will say, but we’d have to stop interrupting to find out!
Wanting to Look Good: We sometimes interrupt people to make a remark that shows how smart we are or to try to impress the other person. Unfortunately, the real effect is that the other person feels we are not listening to them, and we are often perceived as rude or arrogant.
Wanting to Be Helpful: We also interrupt others to offer advice or solutions, but it isn’t actually very helpful. If you truly want to help, try being a committed listener and letting the other person finish. Then you will have a better idea of the whole problem, and perhaps you’ll find that the person isn’t even asking for your advice in the first place!
Some Tips on How to Be a Good Listener
Catch Yourself and Apologize: When you notice yourself interrupting, stop and apologize. You can say something as simple as: “I’m sorry, honey, I just interrupted you. I realize I do that sometimes, and I want to really listen to what you’re saying. Please continue.”
Ask about Completeness: Before you begin talking, ask the other person if they are finished speaking or if there is anything else they want to say. That way, you can be sure that you are not interrupting before you begin speaking.
Being a more effective listener helps us learn and also improves our relationships. So if you’re looking for a New Year’s resolution, how about shaking that bad habit of interrupting others and becoming a more effective listener?