Listening is one of the great skills that we can acquire in life and certainly in the sports world — either as a coach or a person. I use the word “acquire” because many of us, myself included, need to work on this skill so that we can be understand what is being told to us. Listening can help us in all relationships, bother personal and professional, but it takes a committed effort on our part to work at at. Here are four keys from Stephen Covey from his book, “The 8th Habit.”
1. You have to be sincerely open and listen to the other person if you are to reach an understanding of what they see and why they see the world the way they do.
2. Those things you experience before being presented with new information color the way you look at that information. People may be looking the same exact facts, but the meaning of those facts is interpreted through prior personal experiences. Remember, we do not see the world as it is; we see the world as we are. Perceptions are set long before efforts to synergize. Therefore, the most significant work to be done involves communication that leads to mutual understanding.
3. There isn’t just one way to interpret something. The challenge lies in creating a shared vision that accurately and honestly considers all the differing viewpoints, while still remaining true to the original vision. The more you invest your ego into your perception, the more rigid your mind becomes and the more frozen your responses are.
4. Most communication breakdowns are a product of semantics — how people define words. Empathy almost instantly eliminates semantic problems. The key thing is to understanding meaning, not fighting over a symbol.