It takes time and practice to learn & to become a listening person. And it takes a caring heart. A fourth-grade teacher once asked her class, “What is listening?” After a few moments of silence, one little girl raised her hand. “Listening,” she said, “is wanting to hear.”
To increase my own ability to listen, I started to observe and talk to good listeners. The motivation of listening leads to the eagerness of listening according to new discoveries. This comes after having learned those listening effects. Human behavior powerfully, and therefore they have patiently trained themselves to listen.
In a small notebook, I began to record my own findings on the key role listening plays. First, I learned that listening to affirms people. Indeed, it is one of the highest forms of affirmation. When we listen, we invite another person to exist. A boss who pauses at his secretary’s desk to ask her opinion, a mother who switches off the vacuum to listen to her child, a customer who stops to say “How are you?” to a sales clerk — each of these is acknowledging someone’s personhood.
Human beings tolerate stress and pressure much more easily if at least one other person knows they are enduring it.” If we learn to ask perceptive questions and then wait for answers, we can be that “one other person” someone needs to share the burdens of his life.
Third, listening helps the speaker clarify his or her thoughts. “Thoughts disentangle themselves when they pass over the lips or through the fingertips” — that is, by talking and by writing. As we give people an opportunity to talk, we help them sort out tangled thoughts. “The purposes of a man’s heart are deep waters,” “but a man of understanding draws them out.”
A GOOD LISTENER
A good listener gives us the opportunity to express our views without being judged, interrupted, or redirected. We feel safe and unhurried, so we are more likely to express what is really going on within us.
Good advice succeeds only in “right circumstances” and when directed to “a listening ear.”
Listening long enough will help us hear the real statement or question and to uncover the feeling behind it. Unfortunately, many of us are too preoccupied with ourselves when we listen. Instead of concentrating on what is being said, we are busy either deciding what to say in response or mentally rejecting the other person’s point of view.
I’m learning to put myself aside when I listen.
In order to improve, I’ve asked those I work with to help me by pointing out times when I fail to listen. I also use the time driving home from work to review the day. Thinking back through my encounters with others at the office, over the phone, at lunch. I make mental notes of situations I bungled, times when I failed to listen. Reliving the conversations and mentally phrase the questions I wish I had asked, the responses I wish I had given. This mental practice prepares me for the next time.
HIGH-QUALITY LISTENING BRINGS GOOD RESULTS. BUT IT TAKES AN AWARENESS OF HOW MUCH PEOPLE NEED TO BE LISTENED TO, PLUS TIME AND PRACTICE.