“Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you’d have preferred to talk.”
One of the concerns I have often heard about has been how many of us concentrate so heavily on what we want to say in conversations that we don’t really listen to what others are saying. I think sometimes it goes even further when someone tunes another out because they think they heard something that they did not agree with so they stop paying attention.
I know that far too many these days seem to close their minds and miss the learning opportunity that comes when we have the chance to listen to others, even those whose opinions are different than ours. I sometimes think that the polarization that exists in our federal, state and local legislatures is due in no small part to our unwillingness to listen to those who have a differing opinion. The civility that once assured that the processes would allow ideas to surface and be discussed while working for consensus seems to have disappeared.
The other problem I see is how many of us think we hear something that was different than what the speaker said or intended. Not many of us verify that what we understood was really what has been said. Listening is critical not only for the learning process it is also critical in our interpersonal relationships. I recommend the following article to those who want to reap the benefits of good listening.
The Top Ten Tips for Being an Excellent Listener
By Dr. Clare Albright, Psychologist and Professional Coach
- Detect whether the person talking to you is expressing facts or feelings. Respond with extra care and sensitivity when the person who you are listening to is coming from the more subjective domain of feelings and opinions.
- Respond fully to the feelings that someone shares before responding with the facts. For example, when a child says, “I am afraid that there is a monster under the bed,” few parents provide an empathetic response such as, “Sounds like you had a scary night.” Most parents reassure the child prematurely by saying something like, “Don’t worry, there are no monsters.” This objective response can make the child feel alone and that their feelings are unimportant.
- Use silence when the person talking to you is sharing feelings and you do not know what to say. Simply nod in understanding and let yourself be touched by what they are saying. Resist the temptation to say something just so that you are saying something.
- Groan or make encouraging sounds when someone is sharing feelings and they seem to desire some acknowledgement from you. This can actually buy you some time to formulate an empathetic response.
- Focus on what someone is saying instead of thinking of what you are going to say when they are finished speaking. The tennis coach is always saying, “Watch the ball.” Focusing on the speaker is equivalent to becoming a good listener. Your responses will be more helpful and natural if you focus on the other person fully while they are speaking.
- Listen FOR things when people share instead of merely listening TO them. There are so many things that you can listen for, such as the speaker’s values, feelings, needs, strengths, weaknesses, etc.
- Use short responses when the speaker is sharing something that is very important to them. Longer responses will make the speaker feel impatient because they may feel “de-railed” by your intrusion.
- Respond to others by repeating the metaphors that they have used. For example, if your co-worker tells you that she feels like an old lady because her birthday is coming, you could say, “Well, at least we can use our senior discount together when we go to the diner now.” Practice ‘volleying’ with the metaphors of others.
- Listen twice as much as you speak. Are you speaking more than half of the time? Remember the old saying about having two ears and one mouth? Becoming this kind of listener is a great way to win friends.
- Remember that the attitude of your heart as a listener is always more important and more obvious than anything that you say in response to someone. An attitude of respect and of trying to understand another person’s world is much more important than learning how to formulate brilliant responses.
If you make listening and observation your occupation you will gain much more than you can by talk.
Bob, a 70 year old extremely wealthy widower, shows up at the Country Club with a breathtakingly beautiful and very sexy 25 year-old blonde who knocks everyone’s socks off with her youthful sex appeal and charm and who hangs over Bob’s arm and listens intently to his every word.
His buddies at the club are all aghast. They corner him and ask, “Bob, how’d you get the trophy girlfriend?” Bob replies, “Girlfriend? She’s my wife!” They’re knocked over, but continue to ask. “So, how’d you persuade her to marry you?”
Bob says, “I lied about my age.”
His friends respond, “What do you mean? Did you tell her you were only 50?” Bob smiles and says, “No, I told her I was 90.”
Never wave to your friends at an auction.
When I arrived for my daughter’s parent-teacher conference, the teacher seemed a bit flustered, especially when she started telling me that my little girl didn’t always pay attention in class and was sometimes a little flighty.
“For example, she’ll do the wrong page in the workbook,” the teacher explained, “and I’ve even found her sitting in the wrong desk.”
“I don’t understand that,” I replied defensively. “Where could she have gotten that?”
The teacher went on to reassure me that my daughter was still doing fine in school and was sweet and likeable. Finally, after a pause, she added, “By the way, our appointment was for tomorrow.”
I like long walks, especially when they are taken by people who annoy me.
Her Philosophy of Housecleaning
I don’t do windows because … I love birds and don’t want one to run into a clean window and get hurt. (I am compassionate.)
I don’t wax floors because … I am terrified a guest will slip, hurt themselves, I’ll feel terrible and they may sue me. (I am careful and poor.)
I don’t mind the dust bunnies because … they are very good company, I have named most of them, and they agree with everything I say. (I am imaginative.)
I don’t disturb cobwebs because … I want every creature to have a home of their own and my family loves spiders. (I am kind.)
I don’t Spring Clean because … I love all the seasons and don’t want the others to get jealous. (I am fair-minded.)
I don’t plant a garden because … I don’t want to get in God’s way, He is an excellent designer. (I am courteous.)
I don’t put things away because … my family will never be able to find them again. (I am considerate.)
I don’t do gourmet meals when I entertain because I don’t want my guests to stress out over what to make when they invite me over for dinner.
I don’t iron because … I choose to believe them when they say “Permanent Press”. (I am trusting.)
I don’t stress much on anything because … “A Type” personalities die young and I want to stick around and become a wrinkled up crusty ol’ woman!!!!
Conscience is what makes a boy tell his mother before his sister does.
Parents can be very upset when their children don’t get into the college of their choice. As an admissions counselor for a state university, I took a call from an irate mother who was demanding to know why her daughter had been turned down.
Avoiding any mention of the transcript full of Ds, I explained that her daughter just wasn’t as “competitive” as the admitted class. “Why doesn’t she try anther school for a year and then transfer?” I suggested.
“Another school?!” exclaimed the mother. “Have you seen her grades?”
“The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them.”
Stay well, do good work, and have fun.
Management is not responsible for duplicates from previous dailies. The editor is somewhat senile.
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