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Oct 04

4/2 The Importance of Listening in Conflict Solutions

It seems strange to have to talk about communication with human beings who ‘communicate’.  We all talk to and listen to people every day.   It seems almost common sense – or is it? 

The reason we must cover this topic when it comes to Conflict Solutions is because IT IS an essential and universal aspect of human culture.  We all communicate, but most of us need to learn more skills to do it better.  Learning to listen is the foundation for all communications!

Many broken relationships between friends, workmates or our spouses, start over lack of communication.  In fact many wars and generational breakdowns all started because real communication did not happen.  What was meant, said and heard were two different things.

So it is obvious that we were not born with good communication skills.  Everyone has to learn how to use their words in positive, productive ways or we will end up alone and empty of human relationships.  How you think and what you believe about conflict greatly influences your desire to learn how to be a better communicator.  Remember we discussed this is one of our first posts?  ‘What do you really believe about conflict with others?’

A.  So what do we mean by ‘Communication’?

In essence, commutation is more than just words being exchanged.  It is also a transfer of information from one person to another.  This might include our ideas, emotions, thoughts, moods, physical or spiritual conditions to list a few.

This transfer of information doesn’t always just have to be verbal or written words.   We can share our message through facial expression, body movements, and intonation of the voice among many non-verbal expressions.  We will cover more these body messages in future posts.

B.  So why Emphasis Communication Skills?

1.  Sharing our thoughts and feelings is at the heart of all relationships

We cannot really share of ourselves with talking and communicating.  We all need this communication.  When we do reach out to another, we impart, give, bestow, share, convey, pass on and offer something of ourselves.

2.  Relationships are one of the most important parts of life.

Even blind and deaf Helen Keller found the drive to make herself understood.  Good communication influences your personal happiness.  Even friends are kept or lost by the level of expression we share.

C.  Learning to Listen is a key to good Communication

Human beings are not noted for their inherited listening ability.  Most people who like to talk have trouble with the other end of relationships – listening.  Even if we aren’t great talkers, we may be caught in our own world and not listen to what the other person is saying.

One example is the ‘discussion’ between Chelsea and Jacko as they prepared to spend a day together.  Starting with their breakfast at their favourite eating place, Jacko suggested they visit mutual friends – because he knew they had a very large screen TV.  He knew his friend would be watching the footy match!

Chelsea had other ideas: “Maybe a day at the beach or see a movie?”  Her expectation would be a romantic day together.  His was ….?  Neither took time to hear the underlying message from the other.  The day ended up with neither satisfied in what they wanted to do.

1.   So why is it important to learn to listen?

We are encouraged to listen according to the bible:

“Dear brothers, don’t ever forget that it is best to listen much, speak little and not become angry.”  James 1:19.

It becomes a self-centred attitude when we make the conversation ‘all about us’ without sharing the time to listen to others.

2.  However, real listening is a learned act.

Since we aren’t born with good listening skills, that means we have to take the time and make the effort to do the job better than that 5 year old asking for self-centred sweets.  Really listening to someone means you are interested in what they have to say.  Interestingly, really listening doesn’t mean just being quiet.

3.  Real listening is based on four things:

a.  Understanding someone more,

b.  Enjoying the person you are listening to,

c.  To learn something from the other,

d.  Go give help or guidance, advice or a word of encouragement.

If real listening is so important, what stops us from doing what we know might be of benefit to others?  What block really listening and hearing what the other is offering?  This is the theme of our next post, so join us when we talk about ‘The Blocks to Real Listening’ as we learn to handle Conflict Solutions.

Susanne Fengler. Blog Author

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