Taking the time to really listen to someone else can be hard work at times. The story may not be of interest to you, you are too busy, you have a point to make, or the person may just go on and on. There are times when you have to make a mental note to yourself to wait before responding until the other person has had a chance to finish speaking.
Pausing just a few seconds—before you reply—tells the speaker that you are actually thinking about what they just said. Nodding your head in recognition of their words can help justify that you hear them, too. On the other hand, interrupting or responding too quickly tells the individual that you either were not really listening to them or that you already had your mind set to speak or give an opinion. You can literally shut a conversation down because the person may get tired of trying to talk over you. Your rude behavior can make them feel unimportant and disrespected.
During those uncomfortable times of controversy, the ability to listen, instead of rushing to state your case, can make or break a conversation. When you don’t think the other person is listening to your side of the story, you probably won’t get past the conflict either. Sure, you may find some resolution to the problem that you are facing, but chances are the underlying issue will remain until you feel you’ve been heard.
One of the best gifts anyone can give to another is to listen to them. Hear what they have to say. Show interest in what they are talking about. Even ask questions to clarify a point or elaborate on the conversation.
The gift you get in return is the opportunity to learn more about that particular person. You become less self-involved (which is always good) and you find yourself more balanced because you took the time to actually learn what someone else thinks. Who knows—you might even learn something new that can help you in your own life!