When I was in my school days from elementary to college, I was frustrated by myself because instead of helping the person, I made it more complicated. When someone asked me before a question or advice I noticed that they were more confused after I provided my thoughts. It was frustrating to my part because I did try my very best to help the person solve his/her problem but instead I gave him or her more problem. I will give you an example (this is a hypothetical example as I cannot recall those failed Q&A of mine):
Question: How to cook rice in the rice cooker?
Me: The rice and the water must be in equal parts to each other, plus half of the cup of water to make your rice fluffy.
If I am the naive advisee who does not know how to cook rice in the rice cooker I would certainly scratch my head and have more questions instead of the answer. What my answer was not exactly the right answer to the question; I provided an advance answer.
What was my mistake?
I was frustrated to myself that sometimes I will just answer their queries of “I don’t know” to make it easy for them to move forward and for myself not to feel guilty. But I know that I cannot always answer “I don’t know” even if I know the answer and I need to be helpful to others. So I study myself, my answers, of why I answer that way, why I direct them to a more confusing scenario instead of giving them the right answer. I thought to myself that I should learn to give the appropriate answer. I can answer the question in so many ways but there’s only few that fits into the question and that is what I should practice.
When I was assessing myself, I learned that I was a passive listener (actually until now, I still do but I try to reduce it), that I always thought of an answer to a question that was not yet asked. I tend to give an answer that was advance because of the desire to help that person and let him solve his problem smoothly.
What is Passive Listening?
According to diffzi.com passive listening is:
“the listening where a person although listen to the others but not with full attention, he often distract himself from the ongoing discussion.“
In my case, I formulated an answer ahead instead of actively listening to the person. I imagine what’s the next step, the possible things that the person may stumble when solving his problem, or looking into my archive the tips that I think the person should have instead of answering the simple question he throws to me.
There are many reasons why you become a passive listener, like you are listening to a music, you are focus to another physical activity, or you are entertaining other distractions around you.
How did I resolve it?
This sounds cliche but it’s important; acknowledge the problem. Don’t kid yourself or beat around the bush, it maybe painful but accepting the problem is important to address it. Next is to assess yourself, assess the gravity of the problem, then be observant and ask for help.
From passive listening to active listening, you need to be patient by allowing the person to express and talk without interrupting him so you can exactly pinpoint the problem. Be focus, if you are doing something pause that for awhile while listening to the person; you should be able to summarize what he said before formulating your answer. As the person speaks I’m pretty sure that you will see some relevant points, keep a mental list and use it only when necessary. If you have your own idea, keep that too to your mental list until the person is done expressing the problem. Ask questions if you are not satisfied but only if the person stops talking or he feels he provided all the information; you should not interrupt him with your question while he’s still talking.
I still commit passive listening but I try to reduce that one. I am able to determine which is worth taking and which one is the not so important conversations. There are still advantages actually of being a passive listener, or a passive person and I will blog that soon.