5 Ways to Stop Tuning People Out

“There is a difference between listening and waiting for your turn to speak.”

Simon Sinek

Not paying attention to the person talking to us is something we have all been guilty of. Thinking of the perfect response, and waiting for our turn to share our witty reply is a common communication mistake for most people.

It’s so bad that we tend to disregard the final words of what someone is telling us because we assume that we already know what they are going to say.


screen-shotRecently, while I was at a coaching training for the work I do with the NFL my instructor, Dr. Taunya Tinsley, shared with my group a simple but easy reminder to help me not only pay attention, but be more of an active listener by engaging in what they are saying to me.

She simply said that we need to F.O.C.U.S. Though it sounds simple, it’s amazing how challenging it can be to simply focus on not just what is being said, but to be able to discover what isn’t being said.

Mastering the skill of listening is becoming more and more challenging today. Especially when considering the fact that our attention span is getting shorter and shorter. We are getting used to people speaking in sound bites, or in 140 characters or less. Even videos that are longer that 2 minutes are becoming more challenging to stay engaged with.

If you want to be a better leader, spouse, parent, or mentor, you will need to exercise your listening skills by staying engaged during conversations.

Here are 5 ways to F.O.C.U.S. to keep you engaged during your conversations from Dr. Tinsley.

  1. Free your mind; block out other thoughts. Removing distractions, and not allowing your mind to drift during conversations is vitally important. Make sure both of you are not preoccupied with work or other things so you can give them your undivided attention.
  2. Observe and make eye contact. More is being said than just the words that they are saying. A person’s eyes can say a lot. Look to see if their eyes are matching the emotion of what they are saying. If not, it gives you an opportunity to engage what they are really feeling.
  3. Comment on what you heard by paraphrasing or repeating back what was said. Paraphrasing is a great way for you to check-in throughout the conversation to make sure you understand what they are sharing with you. It also gives them a chance to clarify what they are saying during the conversation.
  4. Uncover facts and feelings. Asking additional questions, or acknowledging the feelings and emotions that they are sharing is a great way to get people to open up even more. There is always more to the story that can be shared, and your questions or reflective statements are great ways to show you are listening and that you care.
  5. Summarize and gain agreement. Summarizing the conversation shows that you listened the entire time. It also gives you an opportunity to clarify what they want and need from you as a result of the conversation.

VISIT www.freddiescott.org to connect with Freddie and find out more about his work in the community.

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