Listening To Understand...
Walking through Home Goods, I saw this sign that says, "People will tell you a lot if you listen." It was in the area with children's room decorations. I love the fact that this is a message about listening targeted for children. Effective listening is a hard skill to master. If we start to teach children listening skills when they are young, they will grow to be good listeners and they will use those skills for the rest of their lives.
People are labelled as "hard of hearing" which refers to someone who doesn't hear well. I feel many people are "hard of listening" which is how I refer to someone who doesn't listen well. You may have heard the expression, "Most people do not listen with the intent to understand. Most people listen with the intent to reply." People are not listening to what is being said, rather they are focused on what they are going to say next.
Effective listening has many layers. You must listen to the words the person is saying as well as listening to their tone of voice to understand their emotion. You need to listen with your eyes as well, watching for non-verbal cues such as body language and facial expressions. Listening is also one-sided so you can not speak to give an opinion or a thought. You can speak only to ask questions for clarity and to learn more. To become a better listener, you need to practice to master all of these layers.
I will end with my three favorite thoughts regarding listening...
One...we are given a mouth that closes but ears that don't.
Two...remember that "listen" and "silent" have the same letters. Coincidence? I think not!
And three...learn to be a good listener. Your ears never get you into trouble.