A study on sentencing judges found that the judges were more lenient after taking a break, or early in the morning.
In quoting this study, Dr Emily Beausoleil of Massey University Wellington suggested that at these times when you are relaxed and not so stressed you will be more sympathetic to hearing what the other person is saying.
The physical environment has a significant impact on the way you listen to someone. Choose the right time and place where there are few distractions and give your full attention to the person who is talking.
Bodily cues such as smiling, shaking hands, small talk and even offering hospitality can have positive effects on the way you listen and on the way the other person speaks, Dr Beausoleil added.
Your own unconscious thinking will also affect the way you listen to another person.
If you think the other person is good or bad, even if you never voice this opinion, your listening will be influenced by that thinking.
To truly listen, it is helpful to let go of your preconceptions of the other person and tune in to what they are saying.
Furthermore, your prior experience of a topic and the beliefs that you have formed will affect the way you listen.
You're likely already aware that websites like Facebook use algorithms to show you posts based on links you have previously clicked or topics you have already shown an interest in. A similar thing can happen when you are listening to another person. There is a strong tendency to filter out the things that you do not agree with or that are new or uncomfortable to hear.
Really listening well to another person requires you to;
- be courageous
- let go of preconceived ideas
- attend to the physical surroundings and;
- tune in to what this other person is telling you.
For more tips on how you can improve your listening skills and how you react to others, pick up a copy of our book here!