Can you hear me now?

From the time we get up until the time we go to sleep at night, we are perpetually inundated with information.  A lot of these come in the form of words and sounds.  In many ways the art of processing sound is a skill that is greatly under-appreciated and untrained.

Let’s think about it.  Ponder on some of our various senses…the things we see, the things we taste, the things we touch.  More often than not, we are making a conscious decision to use these senses to engage with something.  We choose to look at something.  Sure, there are times we daydream and aren’t really paying attention, but if most of your time is spent in this state I would venture to say that something is quintessentially wrong with your focus.  I’d also like to think that most of us aren’t accidentally eating things, unless maybe you are reading this and happen to be under the age of three.  We look at something and think “that might taste great” and indulge ourselves.  When we touch something, we make a physical motion to engage with an object.  Or likewise when we are touched, most of our knee-jerk reactions involve a conscious search to see what has touched us.

In contrast, what percentage of words that we hear during the day are we really absorbing?  This is where I draw the distinction between hearing and listening.  Our auditory senses aren’t something that we “need” to utilize but rather takes discipline to master.  There is a methodology to learning to be a good listener.

Have you ever eaten way too fast then tried to go and do something physical?  It’s quite straining on the body.  Words are very similar.  It takes a certain digestion process to correctly absorb what people are saying to us.  How many people do you know that are too busy trying to think about what they are going to say next instead of focusing on the words that we are saying?  Many times interactions with this kind of person either takes much longer than should be or gets us nowhere at all.  Good listening involves paying a respect to the words that are being given to us by making a concerted effort to understand.  This also implies a benefit to being a good listener – an inherited perception of care and appreciation.  I use these in the broadest of senses as well.  You could be having a conversation with a person with which you share no common ideals, values, or opinions.  Being a good listener does not imply that you share those principles, but rather that you are giving a courtesy and showing that you are seeking to first respect their differences which can at times diffuse the opportunity for anxiety and argumentative behavior.

Listening is also a good doorway for understanding.  Do we not sometimes judge by looks alone?  Have we all come across someone that we’ve had a perception of that was drastically changed after speaking to them?  Good listening often leads to a better judgement of someone’s character.  Moreover, it serves as tool for helping us figure out the appropriate way to address someone.  We all have differences…strengths and weaknesses, things we enjoy and things we despise.  Learning the people with which we communicate comes with listening to the people with which we communicate.

~ by bfmooz on June 15, 2011.

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