Someone says, “I’m thirsty.” What does this mean to you? Is this simply nice to know information or do you hear beyond the words and understand that they are probably asking you to get them something to drink.
If you felt that this was simply nice to know, this is called explicit listening. You have heard what the person said, but you didn’t dig any deeper to the extra meaning in their words.
In order to be a truly exceptional communicator, it is important to begin to pay attention to the indirect communication that people share when they speak. This is called implicit listening. In this case, the implicit meaning to their communication could well be a request for you to get them something to drink. Now, of course, it is completely up to you whether or not you want to act on this request, but just knowing that there is more to their statement than merely informing you of their thirst, is a powerful first step.
This is where you can begin to get very strategic with your communication. Begin to listen closely to not only what people are saying to you directly, but also what they are communicating indirectly. These insights will give you a valuable edge as a communicator because you will learn how to address other people’s unspoken needs.