In the management sciences we hear of the importance of ‘active listening’, the practice of listening proactively, supplementing listening with body language and vocal signposts to convey our intent to listen.
Yet in its essence listening is nothing other than giving full and undivided attention. It is about attention and nothing else. To truly listen is the greatest compliment, a mark of genuine respect.
‘Active listening’ is about adding something extra to ‘actual listening’, it is about been seen to be listening rather than listening itself – dividing our attention between the listening and the tricks to boost ‘listening’.
When we truly listen with attention undivided everything falls into place quite naturally including our body language. With ‘actual listening’ listening is authentic and congruent – and we’re never in doubt that someone is actually listening – and rather than a pretence the compliment is a genuine mark of respect.
Question: Within day-to-day conversations to what extent is your attention singularly focused with undivided attention on the person in front of you?