Finishing other people’s sentences or interrupting them is a habit that we can easily fall into. Many of us do it or have done it at some stage in our lives both at home and at work. You might even know someone who is a real cracker at it.

There are many reasons we speak over the top of others and/or interrupt. It might be because we are super excited and want to join in the conversation. At other times we might be simply processing out loud and as a result interrupt the flow of another. There are also those moments when we just want to get our two bobs worth in.

Listening with the intent to truly hear what the other person has to say is incredibly important to building strong and purposeful relationships and to developing thinking and imagination.

This kind of listening with understanding and empathy is also the third Habit of Mind. This habit is all about understand others. It’s about devoting our mental energy to another person’s thoughts and ideas; holding in abeyance our thoughts in order to perceive another’s point of view and emotions.

The best tool to help us practice listening for understanding is active listening. You may have heard of it, however if you are an interrupter you are unlikely to practice it effectively. Here are a few ways active listening changes people and circumstances. Active listening:

  •  Puts the listener in a position to collaborate and allows the speaker the opportunity to purposefully connect to the listener
  •  Helps the listener to stop interrupting and hold onto their ideas
  •  Helps the listener to start making mental notes for clarification and collaboration for once the speaker is done
  •  Helps the listener focus on the topic of conversation rather than engaging in a battle of the wills… e.g. “I need to have my say!”
  •  Affords a great deal of respect to the speaker. The gifts it offers are the satisfaction of being heard, the feeling of validation and allows for the presence and clarity of mind to hear feedback and another perspective.

When we use active listening skills the pay off for us is that we can get a job done and move ahead engaging in new opportunities.

Here at Thinkers.inq we help each other with these skills by modeling, co-learning and reminding each other to stop, hear, think and respond. This is an everyday learning and it occurs during play and at meal times or listening to a great story. We are all held accountable too, both learners and learning leaders and it makes an incredible difference to play, problem solving and building relationships.

Our challenge to you today is: how are you actively listening to those around you? What evidence do you have that you are changing others with your listening? How can you improve your active listening skills?