Vitez Engineering Blog
Be The One Who Listens
So much in life is focused on speaking and sharing our thoughts with others. We share social media posts, blog posts, and stories with our friends, family and complete strangers. We take college level classes on how to orate and present our ideas to crowds of people. As humans, the only interface we have to share complex thoughts and feelings to the outside world is through our words. While sharing our thoughts in a concise manner is undoubtedly important, it is equally important to listen to the thoughts, stories, and ideas shared with us.

Being the one who listens means having a singular focus on the speaker. How many times have you talked to the person right next to you only to realize they were on their phone miles away. There is only a finite number of words in any conversation you will ever have. There is a last word that this person will ever tell you. Make each of these words count and put the phone down.

Being the one who listens means striving for understanding not comprehension. It is one thing to hear the words being said, and quite a different thing to understand the intent and message behind them. At work, I am often amazed at the number of meetings which devolve into people rapidly sharing ideas as if they were shouting into an empty void, rather than maintaining a cohesive conversion. Often when words are simply shotgunned out, they repeatedly hit the same target. These meetings would be far more productive if people heard the ideas, not the words, being said before jumping to conclusions.

Being the one who listens means approaching your relationships with a sense of empathy.We inevitably will conflict with other people, thoughts, ideas, and opinions. While we might not understand the logic behind those we conflict with, there is certainly some reason behind every opinion and thought. Approaching conflict from a position of empathy and genuine understanding is certainly more likely to give an amicable resolution than entrenching yourself in the battlefield of ideas. Try to separate the idea/conflict from the human who holds it.

Being the one who listens may be the most important thing you can do to improve your professional and personal relationships. Since those around us spend so much effort sharing thoughts, we should make the effort to receive them with full focus, understanding, and empathy. Make every interaction count because there will be a last.