Communication in 2021 has changed. Who’s ready to learn the new rules? 

Well, there’s no official rule book to study. But we can look at the situation and come up with solutions. 

We’re navigating this hyper-digital world and people’s social needs are evolving. There is so much change taking place right now. In order to keep up, we all need to be communicating clearly. 

The Secret to Strong Communication? Listening

The way I see it, good communication is all about listening. 

If both parties are practicing active listening, the conversation takes on a new depth. It becomes innovative and creative. Everyone is in the present and they’re bringing their best ideas to the table. Do not be afraid to ask someone to repeat what they have said — or you repeat it back to them — so you always know you’re on the same page. Most people hear the wrong thing most of the time. We’re always looking through our own lens — we need to make sure we’ve captured the actual point. 

Compare this to people who are hardly listening to each other, both thinking about what they’re going to have for lunch and how they’ll reply next. That conversation isn’t going to be nearly as valuable as one that’s getting 100%. 

In the past, I used to struggle with listening — and certain people may feel that’s still the truth. Now, active communication is something that I strive to practice every day. 

Listening isn’t Easy, Meditation can Help 

I used to have a problem with listening because my brain would always be 10 steps ahead of the conversation. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I had to figure out how to listen better.

Meditation has helped me with this. It taught me how to be still and stop my brain from doing what it naturally wanted to do — aka, fly lightning speed into the future. 

I’m sure so many of us can relate. Nowadays, there’s so much on people’s minds. It’s easy to be distracted or just lost in your own flow. For creatives, the situation is worse. Once you step into the flow, you probably feel like it’s impossible to take a step back. 

Practicing mindfulness and meditation may be able to help you with this. It’s worked wonders for me. 

Listening Fosters True Collaboration and Stronger Relationships 

The more I listen and relax away from the need to prove myself, the better ideas are generated from the conversation. 

Listening allows for collaboration and better relationships. If you’re in the present, it’s easier to listen well. I’ve found that taking notes on what the other person is saying prompts you to listen harder. Besides showing the speaker that you’re listening, jotting notes keeps you in the present moment.

Prepare Yourself with Helpful Information

When I’m talking to someone, I can listen better if I know a little bit about them. 

If I know details like what the person does, what company they work for, and their network, it’s easier for me to listen. I don’t feel like I’m behind the eight-ball. Plus, it’s respectful to the other person when you come to the table knowing more than just their name. 

It builds resonance — which builds relationships. 

One… Two... Speak 

Before I say anything, I count to two. 

This stops my thoughts from spinning before I even reply. It’s not always easy, but I’m constantly trying to be more conscious in my conversations. 

What do you do to listen better?