So what are we actually listening to when we listen? Only 10% of our message is communicated through words, while 50% is our body language and 40% is the tone of our voice. That is one of the reasons why communication via the telephone is fraught with misunderstanding.
Coming back to the problem of really attending meetings here are some points to consider;
- During the meeting be aware of how often you are not thinking about what others are saying rather thinking about your relationship to them and how valid their contribution is. Put this judgement to one side and concentrate without preconceptions,
- Be aware when your mind is drifting off on your inner conversation and make the effort to focus on the speaker’s body language, tone and words,
- Notice how your mind jumps to conclusions or want to “make a point” rather than listen and understand. Which is more interesting: understanding what the other person is trying to say or making your own point?
- Take note of yours and other people’s physical gestures, as this tells you a lot about their attitude and readiness to listen too.
- Notice when someone’s words say one thing and their tone of voice conveys a different message. Which message has a greater impact on you?
- Above all be curious, when appropriate, asking questions and probing to better understand and clarify what others are saying rather than trying to second guess them or jump in to make your point.