Are you listening? I mean really listening? Not just nodding along and thinking of what you are going to say in response but are you actively trying to listen and comprehend what the other person is saying?

One of the most common pitfalls in miscommunication stems from not listening, but the good this is…its relatively easy to fix. 

Don’t listen for the sake of listening. Listen for the sake of understanding.Most of the time when people are speaking, one of two things happen. The first, and easier to fix, is that we zone out. We start running through our to do list, figure out what we want for dinner or just take a little mental break. To remedy this situation, just be sure to be engaged in the conversation. When you find yourself drifting off, stop yourself and refocus.

The second, and more difficult to correct, is planning your response while people are speaking to you. We listen to the first one or two items the person is speaking about and then we start formulating what our response is going to be, so we end up missing what else is said or any explanation the other person was trying to give. The reason we do this is because it has become the expectation that we provide an immediate response when someone finishes speaking. Instead of focusing on your response, turn your attention to what the other person is saying, take notes if you must, and then take a minute when they are done speaking to formulate your response. While it may add a few extra minutes to the conversation, it will actually facilitate more in the conversation. 

When formulating your response, be sure to incorporate the points the other person has made into your response. It will show that you have, in fact, been listening and that you have understood what they are saying. This also lets the person know what you understood from the conversation and lets them correct any misunderstandings you may have. 

Active listening is very important for effective communication and effective communication is essential for…well everything.

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