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Excuse Me! Are You Listening?Posted 7/23/2007
By Richard Flint, CSP
Each day I watch as people engage in conversation. It has become one of the most enjoyable things I do. Do you know what you learn when you study people in conversation? You see, there are a lot of people who don't listen. They are there; the conversation is happening, but they are not listening. You can tell it by their presence. Their body is there, but their ears are turned off.
How much confusion do you think is created by people not listening? How many mistakes do you think are made because someone didn't listen? How many misunderstandings happen because someone didn't listen? You see, a terrible thing happens when people don't listen - confusion reigns.
Take my True/False test to see if you are a good listener. See the adjacent page for the quiz.
How important is the skill of listening? I believe it is the second most important skill any person needs to develop. Without the ability to listen, we miss out on information in a conversation. I have found that most people only hear parts of conversations. They take those parts and use them to define what they think they have heard. The result is limited information, misunderstandings, mistakes and the confusion that happens when you don't stay for the entire conversation.
The insight I have learned from watching the conversations of people is how much listening we do with our eyes. The ears are only one part of the listening process. The eyes give us another perspective of what is being said.
How many people do you know who communicate better nonverbally than they do verbally? How many people pretend to be part of the conversation, but their presence tells you they are not there? Listening is not something we automatically do. For many, listening is a real challenge. It is a skill they must work on. Don't forget: the majority of confusion, misunderstandings and disappointments are the result of someone not listening.
What do your eyes "hear" that tells you someone is not listening?
Think about this: What happens to you when you are trying to convey something of importance to other people, and you realize they are not listening?
Most don't understand the message that not listening sends. It is a way people judge their importance in another's life. Words are thoughts looking for a partner. When they fall on deaf ears or on ears that are pretending to listen, it sends a message of disrespect. It tells a person they are not worthy of your presence. Over a period of time, it will result in conversations that are either strained or nonexistent.
Listening is a process that requires focused effort. When you understand the process and learn how to implement it, you take some of the stress out of your life and the life of others.
This is the process I think is required in listening:
Each of these steps in the process are critical components to preparing the person to listen with their ears and their eyes. Put these together, and you have prepared a person to listen to all that is happening in and around their life. When listening improves, so does one's life.
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