Listening

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Listening is a key aspect of communication. Why This Way heavily emphasizes, and relies on, high-quality listening. Our rules of communication require close listening and reflection in order to be followed, as many of the rules delve fairly deep into the details of how statements are worded, and the rules also require reflection on whether or not the listener agrees with what is stated as fact.

Listening tips

Ask for explanation

One of the starting points in Why This Way is the idea that people use language in different ways. If you feel unsure of what someone means by a word, phrase, or statement, it is important to ask the person to explain themselves. Because of differences in communication, and because many of the points that we discuss in Why This Way are complex, subtle, and sometimes hard to capture in words, asking for explanation is essential to actually understanding what people are trying to communicate.

Ask people to slow down or repeat something missed

Listening can require extensive thought. It is normal and quite common to miss a key point in a conversation. These problems become worse when conversations moves more quickly: especially when points being discussed are unfamiliar, complex, or subtle, it is easy for a conversation to move more quickly than people are able to follow it.

In these situations, asking people to slow down can greatly facilitate listening. You can ask people to slow down in general, or to repeat certain specific points that you missed. If the conversation has become fast-paced because of a tense situation or heated discussion, it can be helpful to ask in a way that makes clear that you care about understanding what people are saying, such as by asking: "Can you repeat that more slowly? I want to make sure I really understand what you are saying."