By Amy Kossoff Smith, McClatchy-Tribune News Service
It seems we live with abbreviations, quick texts, and acronyms, so here’s another to add to your list: EQ, or “emotional intelligence,” a term coined by author Dr. Travis Bradberry.
Just around the corner, March is International Listening Awareness Month, but anytime is a great time to tune into our emotional intelligence.
As busy parents, it takes effort to truly listen to our kids. Between carpools, sports, school, homework, etc., it’s an often overlooked – but important – exercise to truly listen to each other. I remember telling my son once, “I know you hear me, but are you listening?” He looked at me as if I was speaking Greek.
My first job was at a big advertising agency, and I remember them telling us that you need to hear something SEVEN times to actually move on it, to purchase something. My kids must have heard that somewhere (“Just keep watching TV, she’ll keep asking us to set the table, and each request will get louder and louder…just wait until she counts” must be going through their minds!).
So, in honor of International Listening Awareness Month, here’s the scoop. According to the ILA (International Listening Association) we only retain about 50 percent of what we hear immediately after we hear it, and only about 20 percent beyond that.
Bradberry, author of “Emotional Intelligence 2.0,” offers these tips to improve listening and overall communication skills.
- Clear Away the Clutter. Inside your head, that is. Stop the internal chatter. When you catch yourself planning your response as others talk, stop and refocus on every word the other person is saying and why they are saying it.
- Take Feedback Well. Listen and really hear what is being said. Ask questions and seek specific examples to better understand the other person’s perspective. Thank the person and absorb the information before deciding your next steps.
- Tackle a Tough Conversation. Start with where you agree. Then ask the person to help you understand his or her side of the equation while resisting the urge to plan your rebuttal. When the person is finished speaking, help him or her understand your side. Editor’s Note: I love this tip…especially where it starts. By starting on common, friendly ground, any conversation is likely to be more successful.
- Watch Body Language. To know what people are really feeling and trying to say, you have to become an expert reader of body language. Keep a close eye on the speaker’s posture, hand gestures, eye movements and facial expressions. This will give you a leg up by helping you to see the whole picture.
How can we bring these ideas home? How do you get your kids to engage and listen? I’d propose an electronics-free zone at times to avoid distraction and increase focus on family.
Amy Kossoff Smith, Founder of The MomTini Lounge, is a nationally recognized Mompreneur and owns www.MomTiniLounge.com, which is full of tips and tools for the business of motherhood. Available 24/7, just like Moms, the site has helped women around the world to manage the job of motherhood. Also, the MomTini Lounge has a reader contest and gives away Mom-Tastic books and other fun Mom prizes.