Stop and Listen


I recently attended a funeral of someone that I remember for being a great listener. While this may not sound like something so grand to be remembered for, I agree with Brenda Ueland who writes in her essay, The Art of Listening, "The people who really listen to us are the ones we move toward, and want to sit in their radius as though it does us good."

That is exactly how one felt in his presence and listening was his skill.

Many of us think we are listening when, in reality we are not. Most of us listen for a minute or two, and then wait until the other person finishes so that we can say what is on OUR mind. I have to let you know - That's not really listening.

Have you ever been in any of the following situations?

  • While talking to someone they are looking over your shoulder, or checking their phone...
  • It feels like the person you are speaking to is waiting for the 'period of listening' to be over so they can have a chance to speak.
  • While talking to someone they show a pre-formed opinion, (by shaking their head, or eye rolling) not allowing you to make your point or even finish speaking?

Over time the result of not really listening is that we seal ourselves off from other people, we don't really know them or understand their concerns.

Here are some qualities of a good listener:

  • Good eye contact with out interrupting
  • Understanding the speaker, asking appropriate questions, and most importantly - allowing space for their answers.
  • Having an open mind as oppose to a pre-formed opinion or hidden agenda

All of us want to be heard, and when someone senses that they are really being listened to, great things can happen. Solutions are found. Understandings are reached. Frustrations fall away. Try it, listening that is, and i mean Really Listening! For one day listen to your spouse, children and colleagues without interruption, thinking of yourself, and with an open mind. Let me know what you discover.