You're a good listener right? It's never too late to check.

You know when somebody is just waiting for their turn to talk. Don’t be that kind of person. Actually listen. Pay attention to people. If you make them matter, if you pay attention to what they’re saying they’ll want to hear what you have to say … and you do this because you actually care
— Jeff Goins | Writer - Intentional Blogging Course

If I were to ask you, I'm sure you could think of a non-listener in your circle.  Someone who dominates conversations.  Who loves their own monologues. But could you yourself have any of the habits of a non-listener?  I did and it got me thinking.

Now let me tell you something.  One of my closest friends has a totally underrated strength.  She's a listener. A real listener.  Ah huh, it's true.  She exists, in real life.  Perhaps you're like me and have a listener friend as well.  Someone who's actually doing the whole listening thing naturally

They're not pretending to listen to people -  while planning dinner in their head. They're not constantly trying  to turn the conversation to themselves. Nope, these people are totally engaged.  They remember what you talked about and even ask you questions about it later. They don't act interested.  They genuinely are interested.

Often listeners get buried.  They don't get a chance to tell their story. 

If you actually take the time to notice, you'll find that listeners frequently get lost in the crowd.  People around them are usually way too busy clambering over each other to get their great story in.  Non-listeners don't realise they're leaving listeners out.  They can't.  They're way too busy rattling on about themselves - getting a kick out of their own monologues.

Now most of us think we're pretty good listeners.  But maybe we're not as good as we think . In their book 'Emotional Intelligence 2.0', Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves consider that 'listening is a skill that is losing ground in our society'.   And you know what? I have a feeling I agree with them.  I think real listeners are an endangered species. And I'm working on morphing into one myself.

Self Check: 10 Common Habits of a non-listener

You might want to do a quick self-check.   Where do you fall on the Listener/Non-Listener spectrum?  Check each one slowly. Maybe you don't even realise you do one or more of these things.  

1.  Talks about themselves - a lot.

2.  Always on the prowl for a conversation gap to tell their own, even more fabulous story.

3.  Rarely bothers to ask others questions about themselves.  When they do they're not really interested in their answers. 

4.  Fails to hear what is not being said.  The hidden messages that exist below the surface.  

5.  Habitually interrupts

6.  Almost always has a better story than the one others are telling

7.  Often does other things while others talk - checks their phone, fiddles with their bag

8.  Ask others for advice but usually have no intention of taking it.  They've already made up their mind.

9.  Almost always in  'Enough about you, let's talk about me' mode.

How did you go?

Do you think any could be like you? Be honest with yourself. You've probably been guilty of at least one of them.  I know I have.   I think my biggest listening mistake is jumping in with my own story.  It kind of makes me squirm when I think about it.

It's good to think about your listening.  But you don't need to go overboard.

It's really hard not to blurt out your own stories when you're so passionate about them.You really want others to enjoy the stories you tell. You want to share.  Absolutely keep doing that.  Don't hold back.  You've got to keep energy in your conversations.  Be real.  It's not a job interview.  Just wait for the right time.

And yes, interrupting is ok - for questioning.   Seth Godin emphasizes that interrupting is essential for you to be an active listener.   You should jump in with a question if you need further explanation during the conversation.   To explore something deeper. It brings out more in your conversations.

Final Thoughts

Listening matters.  It's good for our learning, our friendships and role modeling for our children.  And we're likely to experience more depth in our relationships when we really listen.  

Question: Could you improve your listening? Which non-listener habit do you occasionally fall into?