I’ve become increasingly interested in human interaction of late. I’ve always noticed the massive difference with how some people seem to be very good at interacting with others, while others are decidedly lacking that ability. This is immediately apparent to me at my work, as I work in a very technical environment, where at least consciously the ability to interact well with people is not a skill that is highly valued.
I call out “consciously” because I believe that even though we might try to be objective robots in transferring information from one person to another, we are all still human. Because we are human, we cannot help but notice if someone seems disinterested when we are talking, or is overtly rude when speaking to us.
Recently, I’ve been noticing this more and more, and I’ve been thinking about how much I value this skill. I also believe that a proper study of this, and in the very least, conscious thought about it, can improve ones ability to interact with others.
One deficiency I find in myself is my ability to listen. Now, that seems rather simple, but I’ve been paying more and more attention to it, and I find that I’m really not alone. Its hard to find people who are truly listening when you are speaking to them. Now, this is not to say that they don’t understand your point, but most people only listen to select portions and then spend the rest of the time thinking about what they will say. I definitely fall into this group, but I’ve been doing better since I noticed it. I think this is a common observation, however, the value of changing this within yourself, I think is often overlooked.
The value of listening, is that you can really communicate more effectively. When you are truly listening, you can then personalize your own thoughts to fit the situation more appropriately. Also, the very fact that you are listening will definitely affect your conversation partner positively, even if they don’t notice the difference at a conscious level.
Also, I’ve been thinking… it really makes sense to develop your listening abilities, as you will definitely learn more by listening, than by speaking. Cutting people off early (something I’ve been guilty of) sends them the subconscious idea that you aren’t interested in them or their thoughts, or that you think you already know what they will say. Both of which would be somewhat insulting.