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Are You Listening? Really?

That sounds like a question, you might overhear as one person snaps at another? But if you look around, it might apply to everybody that you see.

Who’s listening, really?

We all know the drill in meetings – sit up straight, put your phone on vibrate, and watch the speaker as you “listen.” If the speaker is really good, and the material is important to you, you may actually be listening. Otherwise, maybe not.

So what should we be doing about listening?

“Are You Listening?” was the title of a class book that made me see the communication process in its entirety. The book title bothered me. At the time I thought of course we were listening – we did that all day long in class and after class.

But a talented teacher taught me the night and day difference in being present and really listening. I learned that most of us are not listening at any one time, and as a speaker you may have to really work to reach them.

He also taught me how to listen and how to encourage others to listen. Then you ask the right questions and you read the message on the speaker’s face. You are really communicating and you both know it.

Try to remember what you have heard.

Think about really listening to those around you, and then later try to recall what they said. At first it may be tough, but if you stay with it the habit will grow.

Remember to really listen to your kids.

Sometimes you are busy assembling dinner, and organizing the next day, as your youngest tries his best to get through. Even when they are young they know if you are listening. But if you stop and listen, suddenly you may know why they have been so restless, or what they don’t understand. Life just got much better.

Remember to really listen to seniors.

Sometimes life changes so dramatically for seniors that people tend to gloss over their feelings and talk about them when they are there, or just nod absently when they talk. Make a habit of sitting with them for a few minutes every day and listening. Just like the clues from your kids, seniors may have things that should be heard.

Remember to listen to your co-workers.

Sometimes we get too comfortable and we think we know what co-workers are going to say before they say it. However, pause and really listen to their tone, their words. What do their eyes say? Suddenly you may have new ideas or you may know a way to solve or help the problem.

Listening is the skill that completes the communication circle. Try it and enjoy as you complete one circle after another.


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Used under Creative Commons Licensing courtesy of Pat Pilon

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