One of my friends participated in a training program and told me what he heard in a lesson on listening reminded him of some of what I said in my book, in “Be Nice,” the second of my Six Simple Rules for a Better Life.

Listening is an important “Be Nice” habit. I’m sharing some of what he shared with me here because it hit home for me in a big way—mostly things I am aware of, but have been letting slip, or ignoring, in my daily interactions.

Signs of not listening well:

  • Interrupting others. I know I do that. I’ve gotten better over the years. I think when I do it it’s because I, like almost everyone, love to hear myself talk.
  • Rushing people who come to ask you questions. I do this one too. I rush them by interrupting them to get them to shorten their story (see above about interrupting others.) What’s ironic, is I am not good at making a long story short, and then when I am feeling pressed for time I do not have patience for others’ long stories. I am certainly not treating others as I want to be treated, violating the famous “golden rule,” which also happens to be one of the golden rules of being nice.
  • Finishing people’s sentences. I wrote about this in my book. I have gotten much better at this, and now I notice when others do it to me, or to others. That’s very common when you change a habit. The first step in changing a habit is deciding you want to make the change. The next step is your awareness increases around that habit—you catch yourself acting in the way you want to change. And then you start noticing others doing the habit you’ve changed.
  • Multitasking when talking with others. Often, when I speak to groups, I pull out my cell phone in the middle of the session and start making as if I am texting, while talking about the fact that doing something else when you are talking with others is not nice. The audience can see that I start speaking slower as I prove there is no such thing as multitasking—what you are really doing is bouncing back and forth from one thing to another, doing neither one particularly well. So, single-tasking is not just a “Be nice” habit, it’s also a “Be Organized” strategy because it’s more productive to focus on one thing at a time.

See if you can catch yourself doing these things. And if it bothers you to realize you do, as it bothered me, work on them, one at a time, for the 21 days it takes to make them into new habits.

What are some of the ways that you can be a better listener? Join the conversation with your comments…

Best regards,